A Thanksgiving gift from a ‘Turkey’

Cloverdale's Turkey’s Party Makers' charity golf tournament is the B.C. Cancer Agency's longest-running fundraising event.

Turkey’s Party Maker’s manager Tiffany Korosec

It’s a homespun charity event that’s outdone itself every year for 22 years.

Turkey’s Party Makers’ charity golf tournament is an annual fundraiser combining wacky golf, fun prizes and zany snail races with an evening capped off with a really great party – all in support of the B.C. Cancer Foundation, which funds cancer research through the B.C. Cancer Agency.

Held in September, the event raises money for lung cancer research, in memory of Marion, mother-in-law to Rob “Turkey” Kielesinski.

Guests play nine holes of golf using hockey sticks or tennis racquets, and everyone wins a prize, before heading back to the novelty store’s giant Cloverdale warehouse for dinner and a dance.

Half of that is contributed by patrons, with Kielesinski matching that amount.

Just before dinner, the hosts read out a list of names of those who have lost their lives to cancer in the previous year.

They did something unique this year at the event, held on Sept. 12, says store manager Tiffany Korosec –  65 cupcakes were decorated with all the names of those friends in the circle who have passed away in recent years, including one of Kielesinski’s high school buddies.

Funds go to the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Fraser Valley Centre in Surrey.

“Every year I come here, it’s the week of Thanksgiving,” notes B.C. Cancer Foundation representative Rachel Mitchel, who smiles as she says it’s fitting to receive a gift from a “Turkey” – namely, Kielesinski, whose trademark laugh is legendary.

According to Mitchel, who has been attending the party as a liaison for the foundation for the past eight years, the amount raised climbs ever higher, from a relatively humble $438 in 1993 to $20,885 in 2015.

That adds up to a combined $138,000 in donations over the years in what’s become the agency’s longest running charity event.

“It’s pretty good,” says Kielesinski, shaking his head. “It’s pretty good.” Kielesinski says he’s really proud of everyone involved, and stresses that the event is supported through “Tons of help” and his dedicated, hard-working staff.

He’s thinking of changing the format considerably next year – the organizational logistics involved, and the amount of staff time, just take too much.

But he vows to do something to raise charitable funds for the cause.

“Unless they cure it by next year, then I’m done!” he chuckles.