Transition To Better Gala 23 Goes East & Pays Tribute To Lost Honourees

(MC Dave Hunter standing next to auctioneer Eric Loffelmann during the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)

Bidding had reached a fever pitch on the last item at Saturday evening’s Transition to Betterness 23rd Anniversary Gala big ticket auction. Two bidders were fighting over a trip to Venice and had bid over $16,000. It is not just any holiday. Prize sponsor, local jeweler Joseph Anthony, had sweetened the pot with the addition of custom jewelry made by renowned Italian artisan Roberto Coin. Then, suddenly, without notice and without hesitation, MC Dave Hunter abruptly halts the bidding.

Dave Hunter T2B Gala

Dave Hunter emceeing the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

A hush fills Caesar Windsor’s Augustus Ballroom until Hunter reports he was just handed news from Joseph Anthony. The jeweler was upping the ante, two trips were now on the table. Auctioneer Eric quickly seals the deal with the two highest bidders and the evening, already a success, moves to the next stage proving the generosity of Windsorites continues.

Jeanne Eid, Sonny Borrelli and Victor Eid, at the T2B Gala

Jeanne Eid, Sonny Borrelli and Victor Eid, attending the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Other popular items at the auction included gourmet dining packages at Caesars Windsor and a popular wall sized interpretation of the Mona Lisa by acclaimed artist Silvio Russo. The auction not only brings excitement to the Ballroom, filled with hundreds of men in black tie and women in stunning gowns, but adds to the amount of money T2B, as Transition to Betterness is also known, will have for its programs.

Emcee Dave Hunter T2B Gala

MC Dave Hunter standing next to a Silvio Russo wall sized interpretation of the Mona Lisa that is up for auction during the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

For twenty-three years T2B has hosted an annual fundraising evening of non-stop entertainment. Those who have been involved with the organization talk of how every year it simply gets better. This year was no exception and came with some delightful surprises.

As the city’s philanthropic crowd steps into the hallway outside of the Augustus they are greeted with the exciting, percussion-rich Arabic sounds of a number of mid-Eastern musicians assembled by DJ PJ Productions. The theme of the evening is T2B Goes East. The percussion is at a frenzy point, enough to have Windsor’s own Jeff Burrows, drummer of the city’s most famous rock band, the Tea Party, join in. It is an added treat during a night of treats that doesn’t stop with some of the best food around.

Jeff Burrows standing with nurses at the T2B Gala

Jeff Burrows standing with nurses Sandy Carrick and Nhi Tren during the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Burrows tells Eyes on Windsor he is particularly impressed with the menu which includes a Moroccan Couscous salad and melt in your mouth Surf and Turf ending with a lemon chiffon Saree cake. He has attended the last 20 galas and knows how hard it is to keep the event fresh which its organizers and over a hundred volunteers do every year.

That T2B founders, Doris Lapico and Tania Sorge are still involved, he says, is also very satisfying. The pair saw an opportunity to, as MC Hunter explains, “reduce the impact of life altering illnesses.” Hunter, one half of Detroit radio station 101.1 WRIF’s Dave and Chuck the Freak’ show, is also T2B’s official spokesperson.

Most of T2B’s ability to help those in need is a factor of its sterling record in fundraising. The first sponsor to help when it was a fledgling organization in 1997 was Re/Max Preferred Realty. The realtor is still a sponsor.

Although the event is a night of celebration of T2B’s accomplishments, which are many and now include some 20 support programs, it is also an evening to remember those it has helped who have sadly succumbed to their diseases. This year the honourees are Chris Calcott, Chris Dudar, Huntre Allard, Irene Dittmer, Laurie Stockwell, Layla Girard and Nolan Trepanier.

T2B Gala

Poster paying tribute to honourees, community members who have passed away due to illness, on display at the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

In recognition of what Hunter describes as people who are the “best versions of ourselves,” the audience watches a remembrance video, created by T2B’s Marketing & Creative Content Manager Zishan Ali, with live musical accompaniment by local singers Crissi Cochrane and Soul Brother Mike. It is nothing short of a poignant pause in the ceremonies.

Soul Brother Mike and Crissi Cochrane T2B Gala

Soul Brother Mike and Crissi Cochrane performing during the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

DJ Lady Frequency T2B Gala

DJ Lady Frequency playing dance music during the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

T2B Gala volunteers Faith Nicholls and Amy Sehauberthe

Faith Nicholls (left) and Amy Sehauberthe volunteering at a silent auction table at the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

T2B 23 Gala Decor

Eastern decor, a golden elephant statue, on display during the 23rd Annual Transition to Betterness T2B Goes East Gala at Caesars Windsor on Saturday, January 26, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

T2B Goes East’s Ultimate Partner Sponsors are The Stephanie & Barry Zekelman Foundation and LiUNA! 625 along with VIP Partner Sponsors FA Investments/Abiad Family and Rosati Group and Host Sponsor Caesars Windsor.

Funds raised through the dinner, the auction, a silent auction and table challenges will be used to provide continuing comfort to local families and a much-needed bridge between hospital and home.

Weekly T2B’s Adult Music Medicine Program, launched in 2003 in recognition of music’s ability to soothe and nurture, has its Accredited Music Therapist Candace interact with patients and their families in the Palliative Care Unit of the Tayfour Campus, Hotel Dieu Grace Health Care. Other programs include toys for paediatric patients, comfort blankets, various concierge services and such amenities as televisions for those hospitalized and payment of parking fees. All to provide unique support to the region’s families.

For more about Transition To Betterness including volunteer opportunities, upcoming events, and support programs available please visit https://www.t2b.ca

Robert Tuomi

Article by Robert Tuomi

For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.