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Community steps up for space camp

Local businesses, comics raise thousands

By: Kevin Ma

  |  Posted: Friday, Apr 04, 2014 04:16 pm

BIZ BACKS MOON SHOT – A sign outside St. Albert Dodge advertises the company's efforts to raise money for the Save Our Space Camp fund. The store is one of many local businesses chipping in to help some 74 parents and students get to the Laval, Que., Cosmodome later this month after the company they had originally hired to do the trip went under, taking their money with it.
BIZ BACKS MOON SHOT – A sign outside St. Albert Dodge advertises the company's efforts to raise money for the Save Our Space Camp fund. The store is one of many local businesses chipping in to help some 74 parents and students get to the Laval, Que., Cosmodome later this month after the company they had originally hired to do the trip went under, taking their money with it.
APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette

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Local comedians and businesses are chipping in to help a group of St. Albert students get to space camp.

Donations poured in this week to the Save Our Space Camp initiative – a project started by some St. Albert parents to send 74 students and chaperones to the Cosmodome space camp in Laval, Que.

About 100 parents and students from four St. Albert public schools lost about $228,000 last month after the Nova Scotia-based company responsible for their upcoming trip to space camp went under without warning.

Shana Dahl and a group of other concerned parents started a campaign to save the trip soon after.

Offers of support have been pouring in ever since, Dahl reports. “It’s been fantastic.”

Business support

One of the first stars to chip into the effort was Andrew Grose, a stand-up comic and radio host for 630 CHED.

Grose says he was touched by Dahl’s story when he heard about it and brought her onto his Tencer and Grose radio show to publicize the students’ plight.

“I’m a parent, and I’ve paid for a lot of these trips over the years for my kids,” he says. “I saw the story and thought, ‘Man, what if that was me?’”

A veteran fundraiser, Grose says he found himself giving Dahl advice during their on-air interview. On the spur of the moment, he offered to host a comedy show to raise money for the space camp.

“Every now and then the world makes a mistake and it needs to be corrected,” he says. “We’re going to correct that mistake. We’re going to send those kids to space camp.”

Grose says he had comedians volunteering for the show within moments of his on-air declaration. Well-known veteran comics such as Tim Koslo, Lars Callieou and St. Albert’s Tyler Hawkins have all signed on.

The plan is to hold two shows this April 12 at the Kinsmen Hall, Grose says. Each will feature five or six comedians each doing their own 10-minute act, followed by a longer half-hour piece by Grose.

“None of these (comedians) are amateurs,” he says, and many have performed at the prestigious Just for Laughs festival.

Grose hopes to raise $15,000 through the event for the space camp at $50 per ticket, and encourages all residents to come out to the show. Expect the jokes to be PG-13.

“This is not a charity case,” he says. “This is us being good neighbours.”

General manager Keith Guilbaut of St. Albert Dodge says he stepped up for the space camp last March 28 after he got a call from Grose. His dealership has been donating $500 for every car sold and 10 per cent of all its labour sales to the fundraiser ever since.

These trips are often the highlight of a kid’s school life, Guilbaut says, when asked why he decided to take this step. “St. Albert Dodge, if we can help out, we’re going to do it.”

St. Albert Dodge had raised about $5,000 so far and is hoping for $10,000, Guilbaut says. “I do want to get them a substantial amount of money.” He plans to keep this fundraiser going until at least Monday.

Many other businesses have offered to help, Dahl says. O’Maille’s Irish Pub has offered to host the group’s upcoming silent auction on April 19, for example, and many companies have donated items for it.

Tickets for the auction, which include a free pasta dinner, are $20 and will be available at St. Albert’s north side Save-On Foods from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this weekend. A bottle drive and a barbecue at the north side Save-On Foods are also planned for this weekend, Dahl says.

Lofty goal

The Save Our Space Camp group has collected about $6,145 so far, and needs about $27,000 by Tuesday to pay Air Canada for the plane tickets.

“Based on the support we’re getting from the community, it is doable,” Dahl says – but only if the silent auction and comedy show sell out.

About 53 students and 21 parents have signed up for the trip, Dahl says. The total cost of the trip has dropped to about $1,962 a student due to help from officials in Ontario and Quebec.

It will cost roughly $105,000 total to send everyone, Dahl says – that amount will likely shrink as more people get refunds from the original trip. Excess funds will be donated to local breakfast and lunch clubs.

Dahl thanked everyone for the support. “This community is amazing, and I’m sure we will be able to do this for these children.”

Details on the fundraiser are available at www.facebook.com/SOSC2014.


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