Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN
With Files From the David Foster Foundation

Victoria, BC (ISN) – ISN Photographer Christian J. Stewart was invited to stroll the red carpet Saturday evening to photograph arriving guests and celebrities, many from the sports world, who were attending the 25th Annual David Foster Foundation Gala Concert at Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena. Here are some details on the amazing weekend and a few photos too.

Hollywood came north to Victoria on Saturday as a horde of photographers, news cameras and TV show hosts crowded the red (well actually purple) carpet that was set up at the main entrance of Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena so that the guests, celebrities and stars of the evening’s Gala Concert could make their grand entrance.

The night had all the atmosphere of the red carpet at such events as the Oscars and the Grammy’s, including a minor spat between a few photographers jockeying for position to get a shot of the stars.

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David Foster (centre) and his wife Yolanda with musicians Kenny G (left) and Josh Groban (right)

Once the dust had settled, nearly 700 well-heeled guests and the celebrities had made their way across the carpet and into the exclusive dinner and live auction that preceded the concert itself.

And what an auction and fundraising weekend it was. Just before the curtain dropped on Saturday’s 6,000- person sold out concert, David Foster announced that $4.6 million had been raised for his Miracle Weekend in Victoria.

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Olympic Rower Silken Laumann

Victorians will look back on a weekend that saw the naming of a longest harbour-front path in North America at 5 kilometres, David Foster Way, the brainchild of Foster’s close friend and protégé, Michael Buble, who flew in solely for the unveiling.

Over $100,000 was raised during CFAX 1070’s Foster Friday radio telethon, and CTV2 broadcast live from the Fairmont Empress’ red carpet as guests and celebrities arrived for a sold out $500.00 a plate dinner and concert, hosted by the Oak Bay Beach Hotel at the Fairmont Empress.

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Swimmer Ryan Cochrane

The Save on Food Memorial Concert and Gala dinner hit the highest notes, where the live auction and impromptu $10,000 bids (the average cost of helping one family per year) raised over $2 million. Combined with sponsorships and personal donations, Victoria gave its resident “HITMAN” a truly warm welcome home and embraced his foundation dedicated to providing financial support to Canadian families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants.

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RG Properties and Victoria Royals owner Graham Lee and his wife.

“Victoria proved once again it is a hometown like no other,” said Mike Ravenhill, CEO of the David Foster Foundation and also a local Victorian. “A weekend event that was just 12 months in the making, kicked off by Kevin and Shawna Walker, has set the stage for another 25 years of our Foundation.”

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Foster Foundation CEO Mike Ravenhill and his family.

Those who hugged the red carpet and purchased tickets to the event were treated to seeing Wayne Gretzky ( the recipient of the 2012 David Foster Foundation National Lifetime Achievement Award), Rick Hansen, Josh Groban, Sarah McLachlan , Canadian Tenors, Kenny G, American Idols Michael Johns and Ruben Studdard , Pamela Anderson, Sinbad, Howard Dell, Simon Keith, Jim Treliving, and Alan Thicke.

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Singers Reuben Studdard (left) and Michael Johns (right) of American Idol fame

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The Canadian Tenors

Muhammad Ali took the place of honour at the star studded head table and received one of many standing ovations of the evening. The David Foster Foundation 2012 Visionary National Humanitarian Award was presented to Joe and Rosalie Segal, and was accepted by their son, Lorne. Families who had been supported by the David Foster Foundation in the past were spread throughout the audience and were there to tell their stories.

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Our “Man in Motion” Rick Hansen

In addition to Gretzky and Ali, other sporting notables included swimmer Ryan Cochrane and champion curler Kevin Martin, along with Olympic rower Silken Laumann, as well as the owner of the Victoria Royals, Graham Lee.

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Champion curler Kevin Martin and his wife.

“We can’t thank the city enough –Mayor Dean Fortin ,City Manager Gail Stephens and their entire team for helping us create David Foster Way, the hundreds of volunteers and sponsors that stepped up to the plate, and to the guests that showed how much they love and support David’s work does for families locally and across Canada,,” says Ravenhill.

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Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin and his wife.

The future looks bright for Victoria’s ongoing relationship with the David Foster Foundation which has its headquarters here. There is a new capital campaign in place to raise $30 million by the foundation’s 30th anniversary, and the grand opening of the David Foster Foundation Theatre, in the new Oak Bay Beach Hotel, later this year. There is also David Foster’s future dream to one day build a world class performing arts centre in Victoria’ s Inner Harbour, connected to David Foster Way.

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Singer Sarah McLachlan and a Mountie friend

About the David Foster Foundation & the $4 million 25th Anniversary Miracle Weekend

The David Foster Foundation is dedicated to providing financial support to Canadian families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants. In addition to helping families with their non-medical expenses, the foundation strives to increase organ donor registration. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the David Foster Foundation, in collaboration with the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, David came home to Victoria. Friday, May 25th launched two full days of events including CFAX 1070’s Foster Friday radio-thon, a celebrity red carpet broadcast live by CTV2 with Hudson Mack, and dinner event on Friday evening. Saturday’s finale was a red carpet arrival, gala dinner, auction and public concert at the Save on Food Memorial Centre. As the marquis sponsor of this event, TELUS contributed $500,000 to ensure the weekend event was a success. Other major sponsors included Boston Pizza, Bayview Place and Fairway Markets. Information on the David Foster Foundation may be found at www.davidfosterfoundation.com 

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Jim Treliving of Boston Pizza, Mr. Lube and Dragon’s Den fame and his Mountie friend.

See all of Chris’s “Papparazzi” photos from the event HERE