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

Turkey’s party blasts record

A Cloverdale party with a purpose nets $18,600 for the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

Rachel Mitchell remembers the first time her job took her to Cloverdale.

It was eight years ago, and she was representing the B.C. Cancer Foundation at a relatively straightforward-sounding local fundraiser.

The Abbotsford resident was in for a surprise.

Turkey’s Party Makers charity golf tournament is an annual fundraiser that combines wacky golf, fun prizes, and zany snail races (“Slick As Snot” is a perennial contender) with an evening of dinner and dancing, all in support of the B.C. Cancer Foundation, which funds cancer research through the B.C. Cancer Agency.

Traditionally held in September on the weekend after Labour Day, the event raises money for lung cancer research, in memory of Marion, mother-in-law to Rob “Turkey” Kielesinski.

Turkey’s Marion Cancer Fund is the only event benefiting the B.C. Cancer Foundation that’s earmarked for the disease, notes Mitchell.

“I actually don’t have any other events that go to lung cancer,” she said.

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

It’s one of the most exclusive invites on the Cloverdale social calendar; tickets are just $50 but they’re for sale by invite only.

It’s also one of the most successful fundraisers going, especially considering its scope – just one business and staff, throwing a giant bash for friends.

Now in its 19th or 20th year (there’s some debate), the event has raised in 2014 the most money it ever has:  $18,600, busting last year’s record-setting $15,000.

“It was an older crowd,” he grins. “More money.”

Half of the donation is raised by patrons, an amount that Turkey’s Party Makers matches each year.

Sadly, “It doesn’t seem to get any better,” Rob observes, noting how cancer continues to impact the lives of people within the event’s circle.

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

“It’s brutal.”

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

According to Mitchell, who’s been attending the party as a liaison for the B.C. Cancer Foundation for only the past eight years, the event raised $438 its first year in 1993, and  has grown steadily, adding up to $138,000 over two decades.

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