Without a doubt, it is one of the biggest events every year in Portage la Prairie.

It started years ago as a small dinner with a few door prizes to help raise awareness and some extra money for the Portage and District Hospital Foundation. These days, it is a huge six-figure fundraising event that sells out every year. 

The event was held this past Friday night and the MNP Exhibition Building was once again transformed into an elegant venue for the sold-out affair. Different prizes and items were up for grabs throughout the event with various methods of winning. Once the dinner was completed, people from the area once again showed their generosity during the live auction with some items going for over $10,000. The money raised goes to the hospital foundation endowment fund, which in turn creates interest that is rolled back into various hospital projects and needs throughout the year.

Tara Pettinger is the Executive Director of the foundation and says year after year, she is blown away.

"It's a huge night for us, and there's always so much excitement in the room. Lots of fun for everybody, and that's what's important to us. We're there to fundraise, we're there to make money, but we're also there to have a good time. People are visiting, and sharing the evening with their friends at their table, and it's just a really great social event for the community. Our live auction was a great success, and obviously, none of that is possible without those amazing donations."

city councilCity council was well represented and the only reason the mayor was not in the picture was because she took the photo

Another portion of the event is an online auction where anyone could participate. Bids for this were cut off during the gala evening. This piece alone brought in more than $32,000 as all of the items up for grabs were also donated.

"A big shout out to our sponsors and donors because their items help drive those bids up. People are excited to get those things. It's pretty amazing to see what some people are willing to bid knowing it is a donation to the foundation. We really take that as a sign of the work that the foundation is able to do and how important people in the community see that. I think that's one of the big reasons why some are willing to bid over and above the value of that prize. They know that money is going to do really good work in our community."

One of the biggest highlights of the night was the McCain Foundation coming up with a donation of $250,000. Pettinger commented on a donation of that size.

"Mind-blowing. That is a huge amount of money. So between the barbecue where we received $100,000 from Simplot and now 250 from McCain, these places have really stepped up and recognized the huge impact that this new health center will have on our community. The McCain Foundation is always eager to help the communities they operate in"

McCain donationPeople were buzzing when the size of the donation from McCain was unveiled

Although final numbers are not in yet, Pettinger said the total should be around the same as many of the previous events which break records or come close year after year.

tableThe tables were decorated for a gala affair

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