For the past four years I’ve run a charity event called #LoveAHeart, a bachelor/bachelorette auction that raises funds for the Heart & Stroke Foundation [HSF]. The little auction that could, in four years we’ve managed to raise $40,000 for the HSF. I say “we” because while this event is my baby I’ve never once done it on my own; Toronto’s Twitter scene has made absolutely sure of that.
Born with a leaking heart valve that wasn’t discovered until she became pregnant, my mother has always suffered from heart problems. In a family plagued by heart attacks and heart disease, the HSF was never far from my mind. When I decided that I was in a financially secure enough position to donate, there were no options outside of the elementary (jump rope for heart) and the incredibly expensive (Princess Margaret Lottery) – so I created another option. The HSF isn’t a ‘sexy’ charity, so there aren’t giant parties for the young professionals of this city. With that in mind, I created #LoveAHeart. For only $5 you can have a great night with some wonderful people and if you feel like it you can buy a great date with one of Toronto’s hottest young bachelors or bachelorettes.
By the end of the night on the eve of Valentine’s Day last week, every single industry contact I have had been tapped, every single friend had been hounded to either attend or jump on stage as a bachelor or bachelorette, and my boyfriend is more than a little tired of having a relationship with his phone.
As I ran around The Hideout on Thursday night, making sure that last minute details were handled, I began to stress that not enough people would show up. What if this time no one bothered to come? What if this time we didn’t raise enough money? What if this time the past month of my life went wasted because it didn’t come together? In the end, people always show up, we always raise money, and I never feel like I’ve wasted my time – but the feelings have crept in every year.
An impromptu host change mid-evening made for a slightly more stressful event but as I’m often fond of saying Shannon Kelly and Shawn Hawaii are brilliant superstars and for the second half of the evening they jumped on stage and rocked my world. I’ve had a lot of support over the years, more than I probably deserve, but Shannon and Shawn have been with me from day one and I couldn’t ask for better people to have on my team. Shannon is the one who sat with me on Facebook messenger last year after a bachelorette backed out at midnight the night before the event because she thought her date wasn’t quite fancy enough for her tastes. Shawn is the one who makes me laugh endlessly before, during and after the event because that man could brighten up any room with a smile and a twist of his bow tie. And when you put the two of them together the results are simply wonderful.
Tough decisions are always part of being in charge. How do you tell someone that you don’t know if they are the right fit for a public auction when all they are trying to do is help you? It’s incredibly difficult and that’s the part I hate most about running the event; having to make the tough choices. But the best part? Waking up the day after the event, complete with a hangover, knowing that I raised a bunch of money for a cause that I really care about and that my friends had a blast.
So all in all, subsisting on nights of 4 hours of sleep, takeout dinners, and cheap bottles of wine for one month out of the year is totally and completely worth it. Because maybe those Heartstart Defibrillators we help pay for will save one person’s life this year…
Did you attend the #LoveaHeart event? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.