Instead of finding Waldo in the Lacombe Corn Maze, eager Central Albertans were encouraged to find Gordo.
Looking a little conspicuous in a black and red shirt, Lacombe country singer Gord Bamford admitted he probably should have worn camouflage — or at least yellow — while hiding out in the maze on Monday.
But he was counting on the lofty corn stalks to shield him from view during a fundraiser/promotional event at the site off Hwy 12, west of Lacombe.
“The corn is up to here,” the tall performer said, raising his hand above his head. “I don’t think I’ll have to do any crouching,” he added, with a laugh.
The event that gave anyone who found Bamford a chance to win tickets to the Canadian Country Music Association Awards, was part of a weekend benefit for Red Deer’s Ronald McDonald House.
Owners Linda and Ed Kraay were donating $1 from every admission paid on Saturday and Monday to the building project for a home-away-from-home for families of sick kids, which is slated to open at the corner of 39th Street and 51st Avenue next summer.
They were expecting a weekend total of about $3,000 — which will be supplemented when the same fundraiser is held at the maze for Red Deer’s Ronald McDonald House on the Thanksgiving weekend.
Organizers are already close to reaching their $12 million goal for the project.
Linda Kraay was glad the sun came out on Monday, drawing lots of people to the maze, saying the fundraiser is a good cause, and her family likes to give back to the community. This is the 11th year a portion of admissions were donated to charity.
Bamford is a famous supporter of the charitable homes for families of sick children. The singer and his wife Kendra had to use a Ronald McDonald House of Southern Alberta after their daughter Memphis was born in 2009 with complications that required a two-week surgical stay in a Calgary hospital.
On Monday, Bamford’s charitable foundation gave $50,000 more towards the Red Deer project to honour a three-year pledge of $125,000.
Bamford can’t say enough good things about the facilities, explaining, Calgary’s Ronald McDonald House “made us feel, almost, like it was our own home. It was a very great thing.”
Some parents and grandparents who brought kids to the maze had their own reasons to support the charity.
Sandra Rowlands and her daughter Louise Crichton had to stay at Calgary’s Ronald McDonald House 14 years ago when Rowlands’ son suffered serious kidney problems and required a transplant.
“We were asked to pay a very reasonable amount, it was close to the hospital, and everybody was so kind,” recalled Rowlands, a Red Deer resident, who was happy to support the fundraiser, saying “it’s very important.”
Farah Blackmore of Blackfalds said she knows parents who have needed to use the Ronald McDonald House near the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. “Everyone who has kids or grand-kids realizes things can happen,” added Blackmore, who stressed Red Deer needs such a facility. “We need something central.”
Those at the maze on Monday were treated to a short concert by Bamford, who sang hits, including Put Some Alcohol on It and Day Job, which is nominated in several categories at the Canadian Country Music Assocation Awards, including People’s Choice. Fans were encouraged to vote for Bamford on his website at www.gordbamford.com.
The country singer also made other funding announcements on Monday: His foundation is giving $20,000 to Lacombe’s wheelchair accessible playground (towards a three-year pledge of $50,000), $10,000 to the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters group (making up a total of $75,000 over three years), and $10,000 to the Lacombe Athletic Park, completing a $25,000 commitment.
“We focus a lot on Central Alberta, but our goal is to reach out across Canada,” said Bamford, who next plans to get a national charitable number.