The Telus Winter Classic, an annual fundraiser for the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, came close to breaking its record for donations last month, despite all the challenges presented by the economy.
"It was definitely a lot tougher, but we knocked on a lot of different doors and managed to secure a lot of major sponsorships, like BlackBerry and Commvault," said Mei McCurdy, executive director for the foundation.
"Our auction also traditionally makes a lot of money, but we knew it was going to be a tough economic year so to combat that we had more items - the bids were lower, but because of volume we came in where we usually do.
"That's a big testament to how generous everyone is, despite the economic downturn. We got a great response from Whistler especially, in the donations we received."
The $180,000 was raised through two ticketed events, including the sold-out Whistler Winetastic wine tasting event on Friday, Jan. 23 which featured food prepared by Chef Jeffrey Young and the addition of micro brewery tasting. The Blackberry Fire and Ice Gala on Saturday, Jan. 24 featured live and silent auctions, life music, and performances by contortionists and Cirque de Soleil performers. The Thornhill Real Estate Group's Match Your Time Race Classic was also a success.
While not technically a record, McCurdy does consider it the most successful event yet.
"The only year we raised more was two years ago, and it was only a couple of thousand dollars more and we had a few big private donations," she said. "So this is really a record year for us, and we're absolutely thrilled.
"Now it's on to the golf tournament."
Some companies pulled back their level of support and participation this year, but McCurdy says some companies, like the headline sponsor Telus, actually increased their presence this year.
There were a lot of items up for bid in the auctions, but as usual the most attention went to the themed "Fire and Ice" trip - airfare for two to the big island of Hawaii on United Airlines, with accommodations at the Four Seasons and John and Penny Ryan's three-bedroom townhome. It went for $6,500.
April 1 is the deadline for funding applications from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, which funnels donations to regional non-profits. The focus is on children and youth, but all can apply. Visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com/wbfoundation/ for details.