It wasn’t quite a Roman holiday, but those who attended the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation gala were treated to a little taste of Italy Saturday night, and raised nearly $1 million for a vital piece of life-saving equipment in the process.
More than $900,000 was raised during Peace Arch Hospital Foundation’s La Dolce Vita fundraising gala – money that will be used to pay for a new mammography machine for the hospital, which serves White Rock and South Surrey.
The May 7 event, billed as “a love letter to Italy” saw guests dressed up in House of Gucci attire and enjoying all types of Italian cuisine.
Planning for the sold-out event began in 2019 for the event which was to take place in 2020, but was ultimately postponed for two years due to COVID.
The $900,000 raised this year surpassed the $882,000 that the last gala, held in May 2019, brought in.
The hospital’s mammography machine was in dire need of replacement, said Vicki Brydon, Hospital Foundation director of public relations. The previous one was 12 years old and would break down at times.
“One can imagine the stress involved in getting to the hospital, anticipating that you’re having a diagnostic test that may find a cancer or some other problem that is very serious,” Peace Arch Hospital department head of surgery Dr. Jason Francoeur said in a video played at the gala.
“The build-up for that and then showing up for your appointment and finding out that the machine is not functional and that you’re going to be delayed or even cancelled to another time, it’s devastating for people.”
Peace Arch Hospital patients shared in the video how much it meant to them to be able to get treatment in the community they live in.
With the purchase of the new equipment, breast cancer can be detected in its early stages, rather than being caught so late that it’s terminal and treatment is not a possibility, Peace Arch Hospital medical radiographer Cheryl Mason said.
Both silent and live auctions were held during the gala, followed by entertainment that included dancing and musical performances.
To create a sense of La Dolce Vita, the arena was taken through a transformation that took two years of preparation and was executed in just three days.
“It was the first event that our guests had been to that really almost felt like being back to normal,” Brydon said. “The whole social-connectedness part of the evening was a huge hit for everyone.”