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Another record-breaking year for Big Hearts for Big Kids

Feb 13, 2017

It was another record breaking year for Big Hearts for Big Kids.  At the 8th annual event on Saturday, Tenille and special guests raised over $265,000 for the Sunrise House - Grande Prairie's youth shelter. 

Entertainment included a Songwriter's Circle with Tenille, Grande Prairie born Carolyn Dawn Johnson, J.J. Shiplett and Josh Kear.  The headliner was Brett Kissel.

The live auction alone brought in $129,400.  There was everything from trips to Mexico, Jamaica, and Rome, CFL games, tickets to see Garth Brooks in Edmonton, a live artist painting by Lewis Lavoie and a Polar Bear Safari trip for two.  It wasn't on the original live auction list, but headliner Brett Kissel announced he would come back in December and preform a private house concert.  It went for $24,500. And then, a second one was added for another $24,500.

"It was such a remarkable evening, the energy in the room was so inspiring to me and such evidence of the generous souls that we have here in the Peace Region," said Tenille. "I'm so grateful for our amazing team of volunteers, our committee, and every single person who came and bought a raffle ticket, or from the silent auction, and the live auction, and just bought a ticket to the event, everything adds up and it's very much a team effort.”

Big Hearts for Big Kids was started by Tenille when she was 15 years old has been keeping Grande Prairie's youth shelter going ever since.  The first event raised $30,000. This year's event took place at the Entrec Centre and was sold out with over 600 people attending.

"The growth has been one of the most life changing things to witness. Every year the energy in that room is something that I just stand back in awe of and wish I could almost bottle it.  It's like nothing I've ever felt and every year we get that same feeling and it just keeps growing and growing," added Tenille.

Tenille said she was inspired to help after reading a pamphlet her mother had brought home from an event she had attended.

"I remember reading the number and thinking I can't believe there are kids my age, in my own hometown, who are sleeping in the shelter every night.  It's so wild to wrap your head around.  I think when we think of youth in crisis and youth in need we think of something so far away from us. And as much as that needs our heart and our love too, there are things in our own backyards, in our neighbourhoods that need our love and support."

From there, Big Hearts for Big Kids was born.

"The night of our first event, the Sunrise House had to close their doors due to the lack of funding and with the awareness of the event and just the community coming together, we were able to kick start their reopening campaign and get them back up on their feet within a year and a half of that first event."

To-date the fundraiser has raised over $1.2 million, money that helps cover a large part of the shelter's operational costs every year and keep the lights on and the doors open.


- Sheena Roszell/ts


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