The 2022 YANA Valley Vonka contest came to a conclusion on Tuesday, May 10, with the distribution of prizes to the five golden ticket holders.
Winners were presented their prizes at an intimate, invite-only celebration at Hot Chocolates, and the biggest winner of all was You Are Not Alone, the Comox Valley non-profit organization that offers help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical treatment for a child or for a pregnant mother.
The 2022 contest was the most successful to date, with a total of $19,250 raised for YANA.
“Last year was a pretty big total so I wanted to believe it would be higher, but it’s hard to believe that it would be higher than $17,000 (2021 total),” said YANA executive director, Kelly Barnie. “So I was pretty wowed with that $19,000 – and it will be over $20,000 with that additional donation.”
That ‘additional donation’ is a result of one golden ticket not being redeemed, meaning one of the grand prizes went unclaimed.
A draw was held at the beginning of the event to determine which prize would not be claimed, and the Old House Hotel & Spa, Locals Restaurant dinner and family spa day (value $1,500) was the leftover prize.
Old House & Spa guest services/revenue manager Karen Goldby, who was in attendance, immediately handed the unclaimed prize back to YANA for another fundraising opportunity. The Old House & Spa prize package will now be used as a raffle item at this summer’s Comox Bike Company YANA Ride.
“Before we started the evening, Artur (Comox Valley Record publisher, Artur Ciastkowski) called all the prize donors just to make sure they were OK with the scenario, if the prize wasn’t used, to just re-donate to YANA… so Karen and I were talking at the event and she said ‘we would love to support you in this extra way’ and when theirs was the one that was pulled, it was already a done deal.”
Barnie said one of the most important aspects of the contest is the opportunity to feature YANA families throughout the contest period.
“We are so grateful that when we do ask families to share they are so eager to share their stories,” said Barnie. “They are sharing already, with their friends and co-workers, of how YANA helped. But we are a growing community, there are a lot of new folks, and sharing these stories is invaluable. YANA is one of those things that if you don’t need it, you don’t need to know. So when you hear those stories… if someone reaches out to you, you can say ‘I know just the people you need to call.’ It’s an immediate direct connection to immediate support.”
Barnie said the organization’s consistent immediate response to those in need is one reason why the community embraces the non-profit so readily.
“Our community, there’s a long-standing history that when someone needs help… the immediate reaction of people in the Comox Valley is to look within and say ‘How can I help? What can I do?’ and that’s what YANA does. When someone reaches out for help, we say ‘yes.’ We are an extension of what the Comox Valley has always been and has always felt. So when people see that, and they see people that they know in the community that have been helped so quickly, so readily, they see that it is the right thing to support.”
The golden ticket winners were as follows:
•Mt. Washington family alpine season pass for the 2022/23 winter season, up to a family of five (value $3,500) – Deanna Lowe.
•The Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa (value $1,000) – Beverley Sparks.
•Peninsula Co-op gas card (value $1,000) – the Douglas family.
•Canadian Tire shopping spree (value $1,000) – Adam Whyte.
•Quality Foods Comox gift card (value $1,000) – Jordan Huber.
There was also the annual colouring contest, with three prizes of chocolate for a year, courtesy Hot Chocolates. The winners of the colouring contest were A.J. (six and under), Olivia (7-9-year-olds), and Alexis (10-12).