For 30 years, the Moose Jaw Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Banquet has been a staple of the local sports scene, with the community doing everything in its power to make sure the fundraiser brings in plenty of cash to support the service club’s many, many ventures.
This year, they’re set to hit a milestone.
It’s expected the Sports Celebrity Banquet -- set for Saturday, Apr. 1 at the Heritage Inn -- will crack the $2 million mark in total funds raised through its three decades, with every penny of those funds helping make Canada’’s Most Notorious City the vibrant community it is today.
“It’s always a fun night that people want to be a part of,” said Banquet chair Cory Olafson. “I look at our corporate sponsors, there are a lot of guys who have been there from year one or have been there every year, so It’s fantastic to see everyone continue to support this event.”
Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt that year in and year out the Kinsmen bring in elite athletes from past and present for patrons to rub shoulders with, and this year is no exception.
Leading the list this year is Hockey Hall of Fame member Teemu Selanne alongside former Anaheim Ducks teammate and 17-year NHL veteran Ryan Getzlaf and former Toronto Blue Jays World Series winner and broadcaster Pat Tabler.
“We’re pretty happy with the line-up, as always,” Olafson said. “Getzlaf and Selanne were teammates together for a very long time and I imagine will have lots of great stories. I don’t think we’ve ever had a European-born player here and it’s the 30th year of the Dinner, Selanne was a pretty big name back in the day and arguably had one of the best rookie seasons of anyone in history.”
Tabler is perhaps most famous for his broadcasting career alongside Buck Martinez on Sportsnet broadcasts and was also a member of the Blue Jays 1992 World Series championship team.
Then, of course, there are the many, many items up for auction. Olafson estimates that this year’s gathering of live and silent auction items is one of the best and most diverse ever, including one special item that he predicts will attract a lot of attention.
“One really interesting item we have is a session with the flight simulator at the base,” Olafson said, referring to the NATO professional pilot-training systems used out at 15 Wing. “That’s not something you can buy, so it’s pretty special and a pretty cool opportunity for whoever wins it.”
The event also sees the presentation of a trio of awards -- the Kinsmen Sports Achievement Award, Country 100 Team of the Year and Moose Jaw Express Sports Builder Award.
All in all, Olafson expects to see another packed house and another fun night bringing in close to $100,000 for the Kinsmen’s ventures -- with title sponsor Burns McDonnell once again playing a huge role in the fundraising success before a single ticket is even sold.
“There were some years where we weren’t very big, but now if we make around $50 grand, we consider that low, where last year we were over $90,000 and have made $100,000 in the past,” he said. “So $75,000 to $100,000 is the profit we’re expecting now, and all that money stays in Moose Jaw and goes back to all the projects and groups that we sponsor.”
Tickets are available, with a table of eight going for $1,500. For more information and to buy tickets, contact Olafson at (306) 631-8893 or any Kinsmen member, and visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mjkinsmen/ for more updates closer to show time.