One of my favourite things about my time here at Dalhousie has been the breadth of opportunities available to me. I am invited to attend conferences, networking events, lectures by incredible guest speakers, and fundraising initiatives, to name just a few. A week ago Friday I had the pleasure of attending one of the latter: A Toast to the Coast, a fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. This event involves dinner, live entertainment, and both a silent and live auction. After a day full of studying, it was rewarding to go home and dust off one of my dresses, break out a new pair of shoes, and head to the Atlantica for an enjoyable evening out.
A Toast to the Coast celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. The brainchild of a group of Dalhousie MBA students from 10 years past, this event continues to be run by Dalhousie students. Samantha Huelin, a second year CRMBA student and one of this year’s coordinators, told me that “getting to work with an amazing group of people from different disciplines” was her favourite part of being involved with A Toast. Samantha, along with the rest of the student organizers, viewed their participation as a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to use the skills they have developed at Dalhousie. The event set an ambitious goal of raising $30,000 this year to reach a total of $100,000 raised over the last 10 years. I have not yet heard if this goal was achieved, but regardless, the room was full of excited participants and there was a positive buzz in the air the whole night.
When I first arrived, the event was full of dapper looking friends, classmates, professors, and alumni. The atrium had the silent auction items beautifully arranged around the perimeter of the room, and as people grabbed a drink (or two), they meandered around to bid on the pieces they hoped to take home at the end of the night. Moving into the dining area, all the tables were tastefully accented with pink, from the bows around the chairs to the charming centrepieces – vases filled with delicate pink pebbles and floating tea lights.
This year also saw some fantastic auction items. The live auction included a wine tasting and tour, a signed Wendel Clark jersey, and a personal chef service, which entailed Chef Aldo Willani personally preparing a meal in the comfort of your own house. The auctioneer for the evening was actually one of the founding members of A Toast to the Coast, a delightful surprise for the 10th anniversary. Steve James came all the way from Ottawa to be a part of the event. An enthusiastic table of MBA alumni near the front of the room provided some entertaining competition during the bidding process (old rivalries from their time at Dalhousie, perhaps?). Also well stocked, the silent auction boasted items like yoga classes, Moosehead tickets, and two decadent L’Oreal Gift bags. I myself outbid competition on some accent pillows (sorry, Professor Sheehan!), which are now artfully decorating my couch at home.
An exceptional part of the evening was the guest speaker. This year, Debbie Pottie came to share her experience with breast cancer. She conquered her cancer 16 years ago, and spoke of the remembered fears and struggles during the time of her diagnosis and treatment. Like many affected by cancer, Debbie’s family, particularly her husband Paul, played a huge part in her support and recovery. As a survivor, Debbie is a member of a dragon boat team called Bosom Buddies of Nova Scotia, a team made up entirely of breast cancer survivors. I thought Debbie’s reflections were moving and educational. It was inspirational to hear her speak about women’s health and the steps we can take to look after ourselves.
Overall, I went home feeling quite satisfied. The food was delicious (particularly dessert), and I welcomed the complimentary glass of wine with dinner. Before the night was over, guests were treated to live entertainment in the form of the Geordie Brown Trio. This event is an incredible opportunity for students in the CRMBA program to get involved outside of the classroom, and to exercise the skills we learn in the classroom in the real world. I would recommend this event to anyone in town during the month of October next year – it is for a great cause, and, if for no other reason, who can pass up on a chance to look so great in photos? (view more photos at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Management Facebook page)