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YYC4HAITI FUNDRAISER TURNING INTO RUNAWAY SUCCESS

YYC4HAITI FUNDRAISER TURNING INTO RUNAWAY SUCCESS

Alex Ruiz, media personality and YYC4Haiti organizer
By Markham Hislop

YYC4Haiti began life 10 days ago as a casual Twitter chat by three Calgary media personalities concerned about the disaster in Haiti, and has since blossomed into a major fundraising event that organizers believe will pack Flames Central Thursday night and raise a significant amount of money for Red Cross relief efforts.  Alex Ruiz, one of the original tweeters, says she is amazed at how the city has rallied behind YYC4Haiti in such a short time.  The last piece of the puzzle, she adds, is for the business community to open their cheque books and she is confident there are many generous companies that will step up.

In a previous interview, Ruiz joked about raising a million dollars for relief work in the desperately poor Caribbean country.  Now, that goal seems downright obtainable. 

Calgary businesses have provided a wealth of prizes to be raffled and auctioned off in support of the fundraiser.  Ruiz says the grand prize will be a $15,000 four-day stay at the Okanagan Delta Grand Hotel and round-trip airfare from Strategic Group.  The vacation package is timed to coincide with the Okanagan Wine Festival.  The lucky winner will be staying in a sumptuous 3,000-square foot villa that sleeps six comfortably; all rooms have king-size beds and views of the waterfront. 

Calgary-based Westjet donated a round-trip flight to anywhere it flies, which will be the second prize in the big-ticket raffle.  Other prizes include signed jerseys from the Calgary Flames, four club seats to a Flames-Anaheim Ducks tilt, a wedding planning package, lift tickets at local ski resorts, a Blackberry phone, health club memberships, social media strategy package and much, much more.  For a complete list of all items up for raffle and auction, visit YYC4Hait’s web site.

Camilla Di Giuseppe, another of the original organizers, says the event received a major boost Sunday when Twitter, the popular social media tool, granted permission for YYC4Haiti to use its logo.  The fundraiser is now an official Tweetup, which gives it special distinction in the social media universe.

“The company recognizes our efforts to mobilize a metropolitan city via social media and join forces to help people in need,” said Di Giuseppe. “Viral messages through social media generated several million dollars of texted donations in the first few days following the earthquake.”

Organizers have also chosen their emcee.  Steve Pollard, by day the business development manager for Cleanmax, and by night an experienced event host.  “Like many others, I simply wanted to help wherever I could,” he said.

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