November 2018, Mostafa Moharram
Our guest writer is our very own GGB Volunteer and MC for our gala.
A lot can happen in five years, and in five years, Generously Giving backs’ Charity Gala has become a legacy. I have been to everyone, and have been the MC for three, and from the moment I entered Emperer’s Palace and was greeted by Gabriel Liu’s stunning cello serenade, I knew the night was going to be special.
And what a night it was.
Looking across the hall to the 320 wonderfully dressed guests, you could tell that everyone was there for one thing: to give back. You could not keep people away from the impressive selection of silent auction items on display. From giant stuffed teddy bears to Oilers paraphernalia, the donors knocked it out of the park.
When everyone got settled, the fun really began. The first performance was McNally’s Triple C Lion Dance team, and the smiles on everyone's faces grew as the bright colorful lions made their way around the floor. The dancers were incredible at making the lions emotive and engaging, and most of us took the opportunity to pet the lions while they made faces at our neighbours. The traditional dancing not only got everyone smiling, it also highlights one of the most important aspects of generously giving back, as the team of teenagers came to the event using their own transportation to avoid any costs incurred to GGB, and have donated their time on a busy Saturday evening.
It was at this point that Zee Flory and I got to finally thank the volunteers who made the night a rousing success. On a personal note, the volunteers and guest made our lives very easy, as the volunteers did an excellent job selling balloons and 50/50 tickets, and the guests were more than happy to oblige. I had planned to update the 50/50 totals and remind everyone about the balloon raffle throughout the night, but by the time I went to do so, only 5 balloons remained and the total of the 50/50 was already at $1200. At the end of the night the 50/50 total would reach just over $1700, and the winner, Justin James, generously donated the money back to the charity, and we hope the winner of the balloon raffle, Jenna Hren, enjoys her week long stay in Florida.
The next performer was Gabriel Liu, who was one of the most kind hearted and humble people I’ve ever met. If you want proof of that, when he sent me his bio, he talked more about his favourite food than his achievements with the Edmonton Youth Orchestra. Not only did he deliver a stunning performance on stage, he also helped set the mood at the beginning of the night by greeting guests with her incredible cello skills.
Then there was Emma Abbott. As I was preparing her bio I knew she was impressive, but no one was prepared for how powerful her voice truly was. Her rendition of One Perfect Moment floored us all, and made us reflect on how perfect the evening had been up until then. If the sound of her well-deserved ovation wasn’t enough of a testament of her talent, I spent the rest of the night talking to guests asking when they can see her perform again.
As a background to all of these amazing performances was the incredible ten-course meal being served by Emperor’s Palace. Every dish was excellent, and the portions were so generous that by the time the fourth dish arrived, everyone at my table had to loosen our belts a couple notches and were fighting each other over the last of the lobster dish.
As fun as the night was, it’s always important to remember why we were there, to give back. The executives of Generously Giving Back, Susan, Sharla and Rebecca, took the stage to show the various projects that have been completed in the past five years. For full transparency, the ladies also explained how projects are funded and how the money is spent. This is where the event went above and beyond just the gala, and we got to see the true legacy that was being built. We saw children being fed all over the world, people with disabilities receiving aid, and just a general outpour of love for anyone in need. It was powerful to see just how much good has been accomplished, and it brought on a sense of joy to know that all the fun we were having that night was going to a great cause.
A lot can happen in five years, and the 5th annual Generously Giving Back Charity Gala was a testament to that. So much good has happened that the night felt like a celebration of what Generously Giving Back has accomplished until now, and a sign that it’ll continue to spread love for years to come. The money we raised that night will go a long way in continuing the legacy we have started. From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone who celebrated with us that night, because without you, there would be no legacy.