Island businesses double original planned pledges
A couple of Island companies — D.P. Murphy Inc. and Vector Aerospace — unexpectedly doubled their planned donations to the Prince County Hospital Foundation during the Grass Roots and Cowboy Boots event on Saturday. Danny Murphy, left, president of D.P. Murphy Inc., presents an oversized cheque in the amount of $100,000 to Warren Ellis, organizer and founder of the event. Both companies actually each ended up pledging $200,000 to the foundation. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE — The Prince County Hospital Foundation had a couple of kindness bombs dropped on it Saturday night.
It happened during the annual Grass Roots and Cowboy Boots fundraising event at Credit Union Place.
The televised auction, dinner and entertainment show sees hundreds of people and businesses from the community donate generously to the foundation throughout the evening, however, two businesses went above and beyond their already significant pre-arranged pledges.
It started when Danny and Martie Murphy, owners of D.P. Murphy Inc., took to the stage about an hour into the televised portion of the show.
Danny started by telling the hundreds of people seated around Eastlink Arena that someone very close to him had been admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown that very day.
“Sitting here tonight Martie and I have just been so struck by the importance of hospitals and we thought, isn’t it great to be here tonight to make this donation to the Prince County Hospital.”
The businessman went on to say that, in light of the circumstances, he’d like to double his original multi-year pledge of $100,000 to $200,000.
The crowd of nearly 1,100 people went wild.
But it wasn’t the last surprise of the night.
Not to be outdone by the Murphys, the other big contributor of the night, Jeff Poirier, president of Vector Aerospace, also doubled his company’s planned contribution of $100,000 to $200,000.
Poirier said it’s the least his company can do for the community that it relies on.
“We’ve been a contributor to the capital gift program for a number of years but we feel that it’s time our presence in the community is heightened,” he noted. “Many of our employees call Summerside and the surrounding areas home. Prince County Hospital is very important to them… and we feel this just shows the respect we need to show to our employees for their community.”
The last-minute infusion of contributions brought the evening’s grand total to $622,233, making it the largest Grass Roots and Cowboy Boots ever and solidifying the event as one of the largest annual contributors to the hospital fund.
To say that Gordon Coffin, president of the Prince County Hospital Foundation, was pleased with the proceedings would be a colossal understatement.
In fact, Coffin couldn’t seem to wipe the grin off his face the entire evening.
There’s plenty to smile about, he said, explaining since the event was created by Warren Ellis, a local businessman and past foundation board member, it has raised more than $700,000.
Saturday night’s event alone nearly doubled that total, bringing the five-year total raised for the foundation to more than $1.3 million.
“It’s been a phenomenal success at raising money and it’s been a phenomenal success at reaching out to the community and touching the community,” said Coffin.
That was the original idea and it’s gratifying to see that come to pass, said Brody Ellis, one of Warren’s sons who commented on behalf of the family.
“It’s Prince Edward Island… small benefits and fundraisers are staples of little communities. And Summerside is a small town, so I think events like this just reinforce that everyone cares about the hospital,” said Ellis. “I hate to say it, but everyone will eventually need the hospital, so it’s a good spot to put our funds.”
In addition to being the primary organizers of Grass Roots and Cowboy Boots, the Ellis family also donated a new Dodge Dart through their Summerside Chrysler Dodge dealership to be raffled off. Cavendish Farms won the vehicle.
The winning 50/50 ticket for the night was 13608.
The amount raised Saturday night is a significant portion of the foundation’s fundraising goal this year of $1.3 million.