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Grass Roots and Cowboy Boots raises an incredible $7.1 million over the course of 10 years for Prince County Hospital Foundation


Gordon MacFarlane was a normal, healthy teenager, with plans and dreams for the future, before his world came crashing down.

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - “I got ulcerated colitis when I was 15 years old and I managed to get it kind of under control, but eventually I needed major surgery and had my colon removed,” shared MacFarlane, who was in attendance at the 10th annual Grass Roots and Cowboy Boots fundraiser Saturday night at Credit Union Place.

After two major surgeries in 2003 and 2007 for his inflammatory bowel disease to remove his lower intestine and then stretch and expand his small intestine, there were more hurdles to come.

In 2005, he needed a life-saving liver transplant.

Gordon MacFarlane has been a patient at the Prince County Hospital and a donor, but he joined the PCH Foundation’s board of directors so he can give back to the hospital that gave him a second chance at life.
Gordon MacFarlane has been a patient at the Prince County Hospital and a donor, but he joined the PCH Foundation’s board of directors so he can give back to the hospital that gave him a second chance at life.

“Before this surgery happened it was a mental struggle as I waited for about five years for a donor to come along. With my disease, and at the time, this liver transplant would come from someone that had passed away.”

MacFarlane juggled his time in and out of Summerside’s Prince County Hospital, and hospital in Halifax.

“One of the things I noticed at the Prince County Hospital was how clean, bright and friendly the staff are. I felt like I was almost at home. I’ve had nothing but great experiences at the PCH as an inpatient, in the emergency room, and as an outpatient.”

Not only has MacFarlane been a patient and a donor, but he joined the PCH Foundation’s board of directors so he can give back to the hospital that gave him a second chance at life.

“I always try to volunteer and give back to the community, and the hospital Foundation is near and dear to my heart.

“The hospital is the centre piece in the community, so our Foundation aims to raise money every year for medical equipment to save and improve lives.”

Grass Roots and Cowboy Boots is the largest annual fundraising event held for the PCH Foundation. What began as an idea for a dinner 10 years ago has expanded to include a live auction, guest speakers and entertainment – an event that has exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The event has grown from a fundraiser in concept, to a community gathering not to be missed.

More than 1,400 tickets were sold for this year’s event, which had over 100 volunteers.

“This is a sold out event so the funds that are raised here tonight and multi-year pledges are all important to go towards our annual goal which is in excess of $1.5 million. We’re not a big province, but we open our hearts and we are generous,” said Liz Maynard, vice-president of the PCH Foundation’s volunteer board of directors.

“I thank Warren Ellis, the founder and presenter of Grass Roots and Cowboy Boots, along with his family (wife Marlene, son’s Brody and Josh) because they do a tremendous amount of work to make this event happen, along with the donors and volunteers.”

From the volunteers who serve the meal, to the organizers who sell tickets and arrange the entertainment, many people make the event possible. They all have a unified goal in mind – support their hospital.

Prince County Hospital.
Prince County Hospital.

Every dollar raised supports the purchase of medical equipment. This year the main need is to refit the X-Ray room at PCH. Installed in 2004, this room is now much past its prime after imaging 60 to 80 cases per day (100 on a busy day). The large scale replacement project will give Islanders the chance to access the best X-Ray equipment.

“Every six to eight years the equipment becomes outdated, so this is a moving target. We want to attract doctors to the hospital and also want to keep existing doctors here, and if you happen to get ill you want the best and latest equipment,” commented Ellis.

He added, “This hospital is one of the best, it’s on the leading edge because of its medical equipment. And for the major donors this is their night to sing.”

Major donors at the event included Blair Dunn giving $15,000 on behalf of the Rotary Golf Tournament, followed by Marnie Noye donating $37,745 on behalf of the PCH auxiliary.

Robert Duffy, president of Duffy Construction in Kinkora, donated $100,000, Robert Irving, of J.D. Irving Limited, gave a generous donation of $250,000, which was followed by a $1 million four-year commitment ($250,000/year) by the province.

Grass Roots and Cowboy Boots has raised $1.7 million this year. Over the course of 10 years, the event has raised $7.1 million.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have Warren Ellis and his family, the volunteers and donors that make this all possible,” said MacFarlane.

“I’ve always tried to live with gratitude for the gift that I received, so tonight we get to celebrate how fortunate we are to have this hospital because every day I wake thankful to be alive.”

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