A party with heart helps BC Cancer Foundation

Over the years, Rob 'Turkey'Kielesinski and his golfing, dancing party guests have helped raise $120,000 for cancer research.

Rob ‘Turkey’ Kielesinski and Rachel Mitchell of the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

Rob ‘Turkey’ Kielesinski and Rachel Mitchell of the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

It’s one of the most exclusive invites on the Cloverdale social calendar. Each September, local businessman Rob ‘Turkey’ Kielesinski hosts a golf tournament and dinner and dance.

It’s a party with a mission: money raised is designated for lung cancer research in memory of his mother-in-law, Marion, the inspiration for the event – now in its 18th successful year.

The 2013 version raised $15,000, thanks to the generous support of his party guests, some of whom came as far away as the U.K., Vernon, and Bellingham.

“We’ve probably got 20 of them that’s never missed one of these,” says the man with the distinctive laugh.

It’s easy to see why: Kielesinski’s guests play nine holes of novelty golf at Sunrise Golf Course, and then convene back at Turkey’s Party Maker’s warehouse for a dinner and dance, plus zany fundraising events like snail races and an auction.

Whatever his guests donate, he matches – adding up to $7,500 this year. Turkey’s Party Maker’s staff, plus friends, volunteer to help host.

Over the years, the parties have raised $120,000 for the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

“It’s amazing,” says the foundation’s Rachel Mitchell, adding the annual fundraiser is uniquely long-lived. She says the money makes a big impact and is spent on research: the foundation is the fundraising partner of the BC Cancer Agency, and is the largest fundraiser of cancer research in the province.

Every year at the dinner, Kielesinski announces who in their circle of family and friends has passed away from cancer.

“This year, it was 11,” he says. “This year, too, we had more survivors or who are fighting it, stand up. It’s a party, but it’s serious.”

– He’s pledging to donate proceeds from adult Halloween costume sales (provided customers bring in a copy of this article.)

Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook.