Brian Burke

Flames organization backs hospice gala

Red Deer Hospice Society has a new corporate friend from Southern Alberta.

Red Deer Hospice Society has a new corporate friend from Southern Alberta.

Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, owner of the Calgary Flames, will be supporting the 2016 Funhouse Gala on Feb. 17 by contributing live and silent auction items.

Brian Burke, president of hockey operations with the Flames, who toured the hospice on Tuesday afternoon, said it wasn’t his first time at a hospice.

“I was involved when the Canucks built Canuck Place, which is a hospice for children with life-limiting illnesses,” said Burke who was also the key speaker at a Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

“One thing I do every summer is, I go fishing in British Columbia and bring fish back to the hospice so they can have a salmon barbecue for the kids.”

He said his mother was also a final stage hospice volunteer for 12 years. She died in hospice about a year-and-a-half ago.

Burke’s presentation before Red Deer business leaders focused on sports and business working within the community.

He said giving back to the community is what the Flames have always done.

“The original owners of the Calgary Flames, continuing through to this day, have been local business people who are philanthropic and altruistic. That’s part of our DNA from day one. The Flames have been one of the most generous, committed organizations in terms of charity work in the history of pro sports. This is not something I had to sell when I got here. This is what we do.”

And the Flames continue to garner public support for its fundraising efforts through Flames Foundation for Life.

“Flames Foundation for Life, it is one of the bigger players in Alberta in terms of distributing money. We carry our weight and we punch above our weight when it comes to charitable activity in Alberta.”

“We raised $420,000 this past week in our poker tournament for the Flames Foundation for Life. In this economy, that’s an extraordinary number.”

Personally, Burke is committed to anti-bullying efforts through Canadian Safe School Network and You Can Play Project, Special Olympics, Ducks Unlimited, Canadian Forces and girls hockey.

Lori Dufresne, hospice event co-ordinator, said the annual gala is the largest fundraising event for the hospice and is thrilled with the continued corporate support and new support from Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation and others.

“Last year (the gala) brought in $130,000 in profits and it’s largely because of the great corporate support. In this economy this year I was a little nervous, but our corporate support and sponsorship is at the same levels as it was last year.”

She expects another sell-out event with less than 100 tickets still available. This year the gala at Red Deer Sheraton has a funhouse theme that promises to be a colourful, experiential extravaganza.

“I think it’s important to stay new and fresh in Red Deer.”

For ticket or more information go to www.reddeerhospice.com.

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