Karen McKinnon introducing her heart-felt photo presentation tribute of a local YANA family at the Big Love Benefit. Photo submitted

Karen McKinnon introducing her heart-felt photo presentation tribute of a local YANA family at the Big Love Benefit. Photo submitted

YANA rolls out plans for 2021 virtual Big Love Gala

It’s the year of reinvention for the way we collectively do things, from family gatherings to classes and workshops, and especially any kind of large-gathering events, coming together looks a little different right now.

For a charity like YANA (You Are Not Alone), gathering together has been an integral piece of their community support building and fundraising, especially at events like their annual sell-out gala, The Big Love Benefit, YANA’s largest campaign event of the year which generates almost 40 per cent of the funds needed for their funding and accommodation programs.

Last year’s event was a smashing success, raising $166,000 through ticket sales, donations, draws and auctions. Two weeks later the world shut down and it became clear that the 2021 Big Love gala would not likely take shape in its usual form. Kelly Barnie, YANA’s executive director, spoke to this unfolding reality and the implications it could have on YANA’s ability to continue supporting Comox Valley families.

“Not holding our largest fundraising event of the year would likely put YANA in the position of having to say ‘no’ to families, or to be unable to support at the level we typically do. As always, our amazing volunteer committee stepped up in unanimous agreement that there was no way we could let that happen. They were committed as ever to finding a way to move forward with as many of the components of the annual gala fundraiser as possible, in a safe, flexible way that allows for maximum individual choice about how to join in the magic experience that is the Big Love Benefit.”

After many minds spent many hours back at the drawing board to re-invent this event in a COVID-friendly fashion, YANA has rolled out their plans for this years’ gala event. It’s set to be better than ever, opening up even greater possibilities for supporters from all over to join the cause and witness the love and generosity that is shown each year.

“In some ways, COVID is forcing us to solve the problems we’ve always had and never come up with a way to overcome,” says Barnie. “When you sell out an event in three seconds, there are countless YANA supporters that want to get on board, but can’t. It’s opened up the event far and wide for anyone to help YANA. April 1, 2021 marks YANA’s 35 year anniversary. There are three and a half decades of YANA families and their circle of supporters out there. You can’t fit that many people in a room together, but you can have them join a live broadcast together, experiencing it as one, in different locations across the Valley and beyond.”

The event itself, as well as the auctioning of generously donated items, will all be done virtually. Event attendees will be able to view the live virtual program and bid in the online auction in one of three ways: attending one of eight Champion Sponsor-hosted restaurants in their Safe Six group, attending one of 20 Supporter Sponsor-hosted Safe Six home parties, or by making a donation to receive a link so they can enjoy the virtual event and participate in the silent and live auctions from the comfort of their own home.

Kelly Rusk, YANA’s board committee president, points to the bright silver lining in all of this.

“The online event platform we’re using allows everyone to experience the energy, stories, presentations and celebrations from any location. It even has video and chat interaction features so we can virtually connect between venues! We know it’s not the same as being able to hug and visit and laugh with 300+ people, but virtually speaking, we’re hoping this is the next closest thing.”

Every ticket purchased, every auction bid, every big and small donation helps toward this important fundraiser, and especially so thanks to generous sponsors who cover the costs of the event so that 100% of the money raised goes directly to YANA’s travel funding and accommodation programs for families. Long term sponsor Brian McLean Chevrolet Buick GMC is helping every dollar donated make an even bigger impact this year. Every time someone makes a donation to receive the link to the live event broadcast and auction, the dealership will match the donation, dollar for dollar, up to $15,000.

The online auction opens on Feb. 16 and runs until the night of the gala on Feb. 26. Restaurant venue tickets, and “link by donation” tickets will be available at yanacomoxvalley.com starting Jan. 17 at 10 a.m. sharp. YANA supporters everywhere are encouraged to join in no matter how much you have to give, no matter where you’re giving from.

“More than ever, this year, we want everyone to be in a position to experience the love that surrounds this event. Whether you can donate a little or a lot, we want you to share in the magic that is Big Love. We’re all hoping that 2021 brings much more positive to our world, and we’re excited to start the year with something like this. It’s been a major undertaking for our staff and volunteers to toss the script and start from the beginning, and we hope that the community will come together to rally behind YANA families like never before.”

Comox Valleyfundraiser

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man sustained burns to his body near this spot around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 13 in Courtenay. The fire was left of the pathway. The Station youth housing facility and city public works yard are to the right of the trail. Photo by Terry Farrell
Emergency personnel respond to man on fire in wooded area of Courtenay

A man was badly burned in the early morning hours Tuesday in… Continue reading

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: Thieves steal truck from Black Creek car lot by towing it away

Have you seen a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 in your neighbourhood in… Continue reading

Teresa Hedley and a copy of her book, “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied
Comox Library recognizes Autism Awareness Month with presentation by local author

April is World Autism Awareness Month, an annual opportunity to increase understanding… Continue reading

Comox council will further look at a troublesome traffic area in the Point Holmes area of the town. Photo submitted
Comox council to look at speed calming measures at Point Holmes

“…We are waiting for a problem to happen if we don’t act.”

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
19 Wing Comox crew involved in three-tonne cocaine seizure worth more than $293 million

12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron involved in Op Caribbe

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Comox Lake is the drinking water source for the CVRD. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Water Treatment Project nears completion

The Comox Valley Water Treatment Project is more than 85 per cent… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Comox council approved a change in fees for using the Comox Municipal Marina, extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31 each year. Black Press file photo
Fee changes, increased costs coming to Comox Municipal Marina

The town will be extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Most Read