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Fighting HIV/AIDS with food

Restaurateurs from Whistler and Squamish ante up for a good cause

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Eat out without the guilt on Thursday, March 27, and fill up to fight AIDS with the annual Dining Out For Life fundraiser.

The concept is simple: participating restaurants donate 25 per cent of revenue from meals sold. On top of this, Wolf Blass wines will donate 75 cents from each bottle of their wine purchased in British Columbia restaurants and liquor stores during the month of March, and Stella Artois will donate $1 from every sale of their product in Dining Out For Life participating restaurants on March 27.

Chris Patrick, coordinator of the Vancouver/Whistler branch of Dining Out For Life, says the concept of enlisting restaurants to fundraise to fight AIDS first emerged in Philadelphia, and came to Vancouver about 13 years ago.

This year, more than 45 cities across North America are participating in the event, and 216 restaurants in the Vancouver/Whistler region are stepping up to get involved. There are also separate regional events held on the same day on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan.

In the Whistler and Squamish areas alone, there are nine restaurants participating in this year’s fundraising efforts: The Burrow Tapas Lounge, Christine’s on Blackcomb, Ciao Thyme Bistro, Elements Urban Tapas Parlour, The Fitzsimmons Pub, Hy’s Steakhouse Whistler, Kypriaki Norte, North Beach Lounge & Grill, and Rimrock Café.

“…You guys are so busy up there, so any restaurant that’s participating is completely philanthropic, because they’re going to be full anyway,” said Patrick. “They don’t need us to fill them, whereas a lot of restaurants do it because they want to support the cause, but we end up filling a lot of places that wouldn’t necessarily be full on a Thursday in March.”

Patrick says he is impressed by the number of restaurants throughout the region who are willing to get involved this year, and says there are a number of reasons why they want to help.

“A lot of people I think in that industry are touched by AIDS,” he explained. “I think we’ve got a very philanthropic community, so I think there are a lot of people that are. And I think it’s become such a big event that places just want to be involved.”

Ryan Lebrecht is the owner and chef at Whistler’s Ciao-Thyme Bistro. This is the third year they have participated in the Dining Out For Life fundraiser.

LeBrecht says Ciao-Thyme Bistro participates in the event because the money goes towards a good cause and helps to promote a healthy lifestyle.

“I think Whistler is a pretty caring community,” he said.

Last year, the Vancouver/Whistler branch of the event raised about $170,000, which was slightly more than the year before. And this year, Patrick says they’re aiming a bit higher again. He points out that there is no Thursday night hockey game for them to compete with.

“In Vancouver, or Whistler, a Canucks game has a huge impact, and the fact that they’re not playing on Thursday night is a great thing for us,” he added.

Funds raised go to two Lower Mainland charities that support local people living with AIDS: A Loving Spoonful and Friends For Life.

A Loving Spoonful provides free meals to men, women and children of the Greater Vancouver area living with HIV/AIDS. Each week, volunteers deliver 2,500 meals to more than 200 clients, to help ensure clients maintain their health and improve their quality and length of life.

Friends For Life is a wellness centre that offers support to those living with the life-threatening illness, and their families and caregivers. They provide a variety of free therapeutic programs and services in a safe, confidential environment.

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