Bob Gainey thanked an impressive lineup of Canadian musicians, sponsors and the Peterborough community for helping to raise almost $122,000 toward the Gainey Foundation last night.
Gainey and his family created the foundation two years ago in memory of his daughter, Laura, and wife, Cathy, to help young people access youth programs with a focus on arts and environment education.
Musicians such as Greg Keelor, The Sadies, Sarah Harmer, John McDermott, Murray McLauchlan and Leahy members Donnell and Erin Leahy took part in the 4-1/2-hour concert, A Night With Gainey Family and Friends at Showplace Performance Centre.
At a reception following the sold-out concert, Gainey told The Examiner about how the emotions have changed since the first Gainey Foundation concert was held in Peterborough last year.
“In comparing it to a year ago, the emotions last year seemed to be really acute, they were like walking a tight rope – it was a tight rope between joy and grief, we were in the middle,” he said.
“Tonight, it’s much more about celebrating and we have some places where we can show the people who are here what we were able to do with their gifts last year. It’s less about why we’re here, like the people who are missing, and more about what we’re doing and what we will do.”
The foundation has raised about $1 million toward its $2-million goal, Gainey said.
“We have made grants to the Peterborough Art School, the Ottawa art school, to different places that are really looking at kids at educating them and giving some kids who might not have a chance the opportunity to study some arts courses,” he said.
“Most of the funds from tonight are very focused and directed towards the Camp Kawartha environmental project.”
Rudy Massimo, a board member of the environmental education centre that will be built at Trent University, thanked the Gainey Foundation for helping to bring together Fleming College, Trent University and Camp Kawartha.
“Great things are happening in the community because of the Gainey family,” he said.
Gainey announced in January that the foundation would give $100,000 to support the construction of the self-sustainable environmental education centre.
Harmer and McLauchlan thanked the Gainey Foundation for bringing people together to support arts and environmental education.
“It’s a terrific and wonderful and relatively new foundation that deserves all the help it can get,” said McLauchlan, an Order of Canada member and 11-time Juno winner.
“I want to thank the Gainey Foundation for the inspiration and for bringing people together,” Harmer said.
Greg Millen, a former Peterborough Petes goalie and former NHL player who is a hockey analyst on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, was the MC for the concert.
Millen thanked Peterborough Examiner managing editor Ed Arnold for the behind-the-scenes work he did to organize the event.
“He has done so much work again for this concert,” Millen said following the intermission.
Arnold recognized the major sponsors of the event, such as General Electric, RBC, Pepsi-QTG, Peterborough Professional Hockey Alumni, OLG, RBC and ReMax and The Examiner, by asking their representatives to stand up.
Comedian Steve Patterson joined the lineup of musicians and had the audience of about 650 laughing as he commented on the Canadian political situation and the inauguration of United States President Barack Obama.
Patterson said he travelled with Gainey to Peterborough and the Montreal Canadiens general manager and coach was excited to return to his hometown.
“He is like a kid in a candy store coming back to Peterborough,” Patterson said.
There was a large contingent from the Gainey and Collins families in the audience.
Beatrice Collins, 92, received a standing ovation after she recited a poem.
Barb Philp spoke briefly about Cathy Gainey, her sister, and Laura Gainey, her niece.
“Laura always had this great big heart and this great big sense of adventure,” Philp said. “The thing I remember best about Cathy and Laura is that they both had these great smiles… You just felt drawn to them… I’m glad I had both of them in my life. I’m glad I share the magic.”
Gainey thanked the community for supporting the foundation.
“There are lots of good things that are going to happen,” he said. “It’s rewarding for me to know the people come and they have a good time and they feel connected to what we are trying to do.”
NOTES: George Stroumboulopoulos, host of “The Hour” on CBC, introduced Sarah Harmer… The Sadies arrived from Vancouver, B.C., yesterday to be at the concert… Donnell and Erin Leahy arrived from Florida yesterday to participate in the concert… Anna Gainey, executive director of the Gainey Foundation, gave birth to a son, Jackson Robert, last week… Ronnie Hawkins sat front row, centre stage… Bob Gainey sat in the fourth row.