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‘It went spectacularly well’: YANA concludes another successful Big Love Gala

Kelly Barnie (right), YANA’s executive director alongside this year’s new auctioneer, Jamie Edwards, entertained a crowd of over 300 people at the Florence Filberg Centre for the 2024 YANA Big Love Gala on Feb. 23. (Photo courtesy of Vanisle Drone Photo and Film)

The 2024 YANA Big Love Gala united hundreds of people from the community in support of a noble cause.

On the night of Feb. 23, the venue at the Florence Filberg Centre sold out all 336 seats and attracted nearly a hundred more attendees via live stream.

Kelly Barnie, YANA’s executive director, described this year’s event as a great success.

“It was amazing and went spectacularly well. It was by far the smoothest experience we’ve had in years,” she said. “The overall energy, ambience, and excitement were amazing this year.”

Barnie highlighted the importance of the Big Love Gala as it represents the biggest fundraiser for the Comox Valley non-profit.

“This event makes 40 per cent of all the money we need for YANA families in a year. (The Big Love Gala) is a gathering for everyone who puts their time, effort, energy, and money into supporting and showing their love for YANA and families (we support).”

All the money amassed during the event will go towards helping families in need of YANA’s services.

“Every dollar that YANA raises goes towards our funding and our accommodation program,” said Barnie. “(If someone) has to leave the community to access medical care for their child, YANA provides the accommodation (and assists with) expenses incurred while they’re away.”

Though the total amount raised by the event has yet to be disclosed, Barnie said that this year marked a particularly lively fundraiser as the non-profit received significant donations through various streams of engagement.

“The live auction by itself raised over $70,000 this year. We also (hadd) a table for next year’s event that went for $17,500 - which is a record,” said Barnie. “A dozen donuts went for $1,200. People were just plain donating and being extremely generous.”

This year’s edition of the 37-year-long tradition held significant importance for YANA.

“Over the years it grew to be a (full-fledged event) with Dave Stevens taking over as auctioneer,” said Barnie. “This year was officially Stevens’ retirement (after) decades of (participation) and his contribution to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for YANA.”

In his place, YANA welcomed Jamie Edwards, the event’s new auctioneer, who successfully carried the torch.

Barnie concluded by thanking YANA’s numerous volunteers and sponsors without whom this event couldn’t have been a success.

The Record will update the article online with the total funds raised once YANA has finished tallying its numbers.

To learn more about YANA, visit