The Willie O’Ree Fundraising Dinner – Celebrating a Fredericton Legend – was held at the Fredericton Inn on September 21, 2018. The event was sponsored by the Lions Nashwaaksis Club and raised $75,300 in support of Portage Atlantic.
The fundraising dinner was a celebration of Mr. Willie O’Ree’s achievements in the sport of hockey as well as an opportunity to recognize his humble and giving nature. In particular, Willie is passionate about promoting minor hockey programs in helping young people who need a hand or words of encouragement.
The dinner event was a memorable occasional for all who attended. A special thank you to the guest of honour, Mr. Willie O’Ree, the organizing committee, the generous sponsors, long-time sporting community friends of Willie O’Ree and to all attendees, without whom such a wonderful evening would not have been possible.
Portage Atlantic acknowledges the following persons whose contribution made the evening the success it was: President of Portage Mr. Peter Howlett; Chairman of the organizing committee, Mr. David Emmerson; special friends of Willie O’Ree, Mr. and Mrs. David and Brenda Sansom; Auctioneer Mr. Frank Jardine; and Master of ceremonies, Mr. Brad Woodside.
After a touching introduction by her mother, Mrs. Lise Landry, the Portage Atlantic graduate, Alexa Landry showed much courage in providing a testimonial of her achievements – finding freedom from addiction, reconnecting with loved ones, returning to work, continuing her post-education and making the commitment to never again live in the shadows of drugs. The guests showed their support with a heartfelt round of applause and a standing ovation.
The presenting sponsor guest speaker, Lion John Murray, presented glimpses of the history of the Nashwaaksis Lions Club and the Lions’ Youth Program: “Huggies – Try Hugs not Drugs”, and introduced the Lions’ Huggy mascot who was proud to greet the guests and to be part of the evening.
Portage Atlantic was happy to see a table of young hockey players take part in honouring the Hockey Hall of Famer 2018, and appreciated the help during the evening from several players of the Leo Hayes High School Lady Lions and the Fredericton High School Lady Black Kats hockey teams.
The evening was made extra special when a long-time friend of Willie O’Ree, Mr. David Morell made a surprise visit and hosted “a chat” with Mr. O’Ree, resulting in some laughs and emotional reminiscing moments.