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The return of the Athabasca Rotary Celebrity Dinner and Auction

Kevin Martin is the keynote speaker with MC Danny Hooper

ATHABASCA — It’s the return of the Athabasca Rotary Club’s celebrity dinner. 

Now that COVID restrictions have been lifted, the Athabasca Rotary Club has been working hard on bringing back a long-time tradition area – the celebrity dinner and auction, a fun night of entertainment and fundraising for the non-profit group who gives back so much to the community. This year will feature Olympic curling gold medallist Kevin Martin as well as a familiar face Athabasca saw not too long ago in the form of MC Danny Hooper.

“Our very first one was in 2003 with George Chuvalo and then 2005 was Catriona Le May Doan,” said Rotary member and one of the organizers Rob Balay. "We’ve had Gordie Howe, Kevin Lowe and Karen Percy Lowe, and our last one in 2018 was Athabasca’s own Jay Onrait.” 

The event is held every two years and the money raised goes directly back into the community to support projects like the Rotary walking trails; the new toboggan hill; supporting students, providing tablets for seniors during the pandemic and much more. 

“It all started because we were raising money to go towards the Athabasca Regional Multiplex and other Rotary projects as well,” he said. “Supporting students, the spray park, all the trails. Really, all Rotary community initiatives were the reason we started it.” 

Sponsors and donors are also a huge part of the fundraising to help offset the costs and raise money. 

“Currently, we have platinum sponsorships from both Home Hardware and Canadian Tire in Athabasca,” said co-organizer and Rotary member Natasha Kapitaniuk. “Those sponsorships are generally in-kind and then we will get notification of what they're doing.” 

Previously, Home Hardware has donated a home renovation package and Canadian Tire has done a backyard garden barbecue and full Christmas package.  

“They'll be huge, huge auction items,” she said. “Cheap Seats has donated a lady's e-bike valued at just under $2,000 to be auctioned off and that's going to be extremely exciting. We have received a diamond sponsorship from Stingray Radio which is advertising the events and encouraging people to donate items.” 

The amount of the prizes isn’t a worry either, from a $10 gift certificate to an item worth thousands of dollars, all are welcome. 

“People will have multiple chances to bid on items with the silent and live auctions,” said Kapitaniuk. “We will bundle some of the lower cost items together in the silent auction and people can buy the bundle as a teacher’s gift, or Christmas gifts, Mother’s Day, et cetera. So, that’s why we need donations of all values.” 

The event takes place Oct. 28 but if a business wants some extra benefits from donating, the sooner the better will ensure they are included in the auction booklet. 

“The cutoff for having your item listed in the booklet that is on the tables is Oct. 10,” she said. “We won’t say no to a donation after Oct. 10, but I cannot promise it will be included in the booklet, it will just be at the event.” 

The event isn’t just about auctions, even if Danny Hooper is the auctioneer. 

“Kevin Martin is the celebrity speaker and he’s been to our community. He's a world champion. He's an Olympic champion,” said Balay. “Part of the reason that we asked him is because we're doing a Hot Stove.” 

Not only will people hear Martin talk about his life and be entertained by Hooper who is doing double duty as MC, but Jules Owchar, who coached Martin at the Olympics as well as Men’s Senior World Champions Barry Chwedoruk and George White will be in the hot seats beside Martin during the Hot Stove. 

“During the pandemic, when we couldn't hold the event, it was missed in the community,” said Kapitaniuk. “We hold it later in the year and many businesses, large and small, used it as an opportunity to have a staff party where everyone could dress up, enjoy a great meal, some fantastic entertainment, and give back.” 

Donations for auction items can be directed to Kapitaniuk at 780-689-9847 or and Balay at 780-327-9646 or 

Tickets are $150 each and you get single tickets or buy tables for eight or 10 at

Questions about tickets can be directed to Bonnie Nichols at 780-689-6773. 

Heather Stocking

About the Author: Heather Stocking

Heather Stocking a reporter at the Athabasca Advocate, a weekly paper in Northern Alberta. Heather covers all aspects of the news in and around Athabasca and Boyle as well as other small communities.
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