It will have a different look and feel, but organizers are hoping the outcome will be same as plans are being finalized for Prince County Hospital’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
The event, which is in its 12th year and is known as Grassroots and Cowboy Boots, has been renamed Grassroots Special Edition. This fundraiser has raised close to $8 million for the Summerside hospital in its first 11 years.
“We aren’t able to have 1,500 people in one place anymore, so we are doing it as a jeep draw and takeout,” said Bevan Woodacre, communications officer for the Prince County Hospital Foundation. “When you make your ticket purchase, you are getting a chance to win the Jeep Wrangler Sport that Summerside Chrysler Dodge has given us and that hasn’t changed. The meal this year will be takeout.”
The date is Saturday, Oct. 3, and steak and lobster meals, which will include salads and a dessert, can be picked up via a drive-thru in the parking lot of Credit Union Place in Summerside from 3 to 5 p.m. There will also be entertainment in the parking lot, and the jeep draw will take place later night live on the Prince County Hospital Foundation’s Facebook page.
“We will certainly miss having the large-scale kind of show aspect to it,” said Woodacre.
Another popular aspect of the evening is an auction, which will be held on a much smaller scale. Woodacre noted organizers can have small gatherings inside Credit Union Place, and those spots will be determined through ticket sales.
“If you have committed to 30, 20 or 10 tickets, we are starting with those and then we have the RSVP list we have to watch very closely,” said Woodacre. “We will whittle it down from those who have committed a large-scale number of tickets. They’ll get the first invitations.”
Although adjustments have had to be made, Woodacre is confident the fundraiser, which he said is financed and captained by Warren Ellis and his family through Summerside Chrysler Dodge, will be another success. Woodacre also praised the backing provided by the City of Summerside.
Woodacre said the Grassroots Special Edition is “absolutely essential” for the foundation, which has a goal of raising $1.5 million for equipment this year. That becomes even more challenging given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“When many of your fundraising avenues are now closed, you have to pivot in a way that allows you to operate safely but still falls within your mission,” said Woodacre. “Many things in the world have changed, but our mission to outfit the hospital with the necessary equipment it needs hasn’t changed a bit.
“If anything, it’s been reinforced. We see now just how important it is to have all this equipment on hand in place when it’s needed.”
For example, Woodacre mentioned ventilators in case a COVID-19 patient is admitted.
“You don’t want to start fundraising for them after the fact,” said Woodacre. “It’s about keeping the hospital up to date and equipped to handle.”
Did You Know?
Funds raised for Prince County Hospital from Grassroots and Cowboy Boots:
- 2019 – $872,388
- 2018 – $1,701,041
- 2017 – $1,242,071
- 2016 – $324,810
- 2015 – $1,075,653
- 2014 – $1,465,049
- 2013 – $622,233
- 2012 – $450,000
- 2011 – $85,000
- 2010 – $85,000
- 2009 – $72,000
- TOTAL – $7,995,245
A lot of work has gone into getting to this point. Ellis began selling tickets in January, and once COVID-19 shut things down in March, he was unsure if the 2020 event would go ahead.
“We were at the point of thinking we were going to have to cancel the whole thing,” said Ellis. “That went on for quite a while, and we were under the impression there was going to be none.
“Then we saw some possibilities that we may be able to put one together under revised conditions.”
Ellis acknowledges it’s a different format but stressed the same principle of raising money for the hospital applies. He described the response from the public as overwhelming.
“Everybody who has been there before is trying their best to help out again purchasing tickets and sponsorships,” said Ellis. “It was a learning experience to have to revamp the thing and make sure everybody was onside.
“I know it’s not like it was other years, but we are hopeful that everybody will be satisfied with it and contribute as much as they can because even though a lot of things are shut down with COVID, our health-care system is not shut down. Our health-care system is very active, and we need the funds to support those hospitals.”