The COVID-19 pandemic may have put the kibosh on the traditional ICCHA / Wish Fund spring gala, but that didn’t mean the group couldn’t still provide both a fundraising project and a hot meal for supportive Kamloops citizens.
It just meant they had to do it a slightly different way.
“When COVID hit, the first thing we ended up doing was, OK, we have to stop the gala,” explained Al Patel, founder of the ICCHA/Wish Fund, which raises money for Royal Inland Hospital. “What do we do next?”
The solution was to create a physically distanced dinner event, which meant converting the regular gala into a drive-thru take-out experience.
Meals were handed out to those who pulled their vehicles through the Colombo Lodge parking lot. The ticket price of $99 included dinner and dessert for two, as well as a bottle of wine.
The drive-thru fundraiser managed to raise $36,000 from dinner sales, which was, unfortunately, quite a bit less than the $100,000 the group usually realizes from the spring gala.
To help make up some of the difference, there is now a 50/50 draw running, with the prize winner to be announced on Feb. 12, 2021. Tickets are available online at iwishfund.com.
The ICCHA/Wish Fund raises money for urgently needed equipment at RIH, with a focus on cardiac care. The group is currently trying to reach the $300,000 goal to bring an echocardiogram unit to the hospital and hopes to eventually work with health authorities in establishing a catheterization laboratory in Kamloops. A cath lab allows doctors to perform minimally invasive tests and procedures to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease.
“What this equipment will do is it will allow the doctors now to see where the heart blockage is visually,” Patel said.
Unfortunately, even after obtaining the device, doctors in Kamloops wouldn’t be able to do much beyond viewing the heart, meaning local heart patients will need to continue travelling to Kelowna for cath-lab treatment, something Patel is working toward ending.
“My position has always been for the last 12 years — the heart is the most important muscle of our body,” he said.
As Kamloops citizens get older, Patel explained, they are needing access to more care. He would like to see a time when they can be treated right here at home. And. he added, the fact that Kelowna General Hospital can only see two patients a day can lead to delays, which Patel said can result in further complications — and even death.
Patel is passionate about enhancing cardiac care RIH in large part because heart disease has struck close to his home.
“My family, my mom, my brother, my sister, they all died of heart problems,” he said.
The ICCHA / Wish Fund was founded in 2007. For more information, go online to iwishfund.com.