SYDNEY, N.S. — If there’s one thing better than a pile of mouth-watering ribs, it’s the knowledge that chowing down on the tasty, barbequed cuts of meat will help others.
On Monday, organizers of the annual Sydney RibFest announced a new charity of choice to benefit from the incredibly popular food festival that last year attracted more than 35,000 people over its three-day, mid-July run at Open Hearth Park.
After partnering with the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton over the past three years, the Rotary Club fundraiser will this year work with the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation, which in turn will direct the event’s charitable proceeds to Caleb’s Courage and the Cancer Patient Care Fund.
That’s great news for the new recipients as the hospice society just received a cheque for more than $209,000, the amount raised for charity over the first three editions of the Sydney Ribfest that was first held in 2015.
Society executive director Aurelle Landry, who was among a crowd of about 70 people that attended the 2018 RibFest launch at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre on Monday, called the financial gift “extraordinary” and acknowledged it was the largest single donation the society has ever received.
“RibFest not only raised a significant amount of money for our society and the patients and families we support, but it also created the opportunity for us to engage and expand the level of understanding of hospice palliative care and the society’s role in our community,” said Landry, who added that the society presently cares for hundreds of patients with life-limiting illnesses.
“Unfortunately, the need is growing, but for those who need it there is comfort and care available — this year we celebrate 10 years since the An Cala (palliative care) unit in the regional hospital opened its doors.”
The event’s new charities of choice — Caleb’s Courage and the Cancer Patient Care Fund – were unveiled by hospital foundation CEO Brad Jacobs, who said both causes were near and dear to the hearts of everyone involved with the foundation.
“After losing their son to neuroblastoma, Caleb’s parents, Mike and Nicole (MacArthur) set out on a mission to build a room at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital that would help support critically ill children and their families and I can say, that without question, one of the most impactful days I have had during my time here was (last) May 17th when I stood with the MacArthurs and watched that room open,” said Jacobs.
“They have created what I call a movement and not a fundraising project and they have raised more than $388,000.”
For their part, the MacAruthers, whose initiative brought the Caleb-inspired superhero room to fruition, said they were thrilled to learn that Caleb’s Courage is now part of RibFest.
“It’s a great event to be a part of,” said Nicole, who, with husband Mike, has four other children, including a set of twins. “We are honoured and overjoyed — we actually go to the event as a family every year, it’s a family-oriented event, and Caleb’s spirit is very much about families and raising money for families by families.”
Added Mike: “The fact that we have lived the journey means we understand the important work people are doing to help patients, particularly children — we’ve tried to take something that was a tragic event for us and make it into something positive, so this event (RibFest) is a perfect example of the community coming together to support others in the community.”
Meanwhile, it was also announced that, for the fourth consecutive year, the event’s “prime ribber” sponsor is Destination Membertou.
“For us, supporting events that reach into every community across Cape Breton and to bring people together for a worthy cause is a pleasure, so yes, we will back this up, yes, we will be the prime ‘ribber’ and yes, we will eat most of the ribs,” said Chief Terry Paul, whose final comment drew a huge collective laugh from the crowd.
This year’s RibFest, featuring food, live music and family fun, will take place July 13-15 and will once again be held in Open Hearth Park.
WHAT: Fourth Annual Sydney RibFest
WHEN: July 13-15, 2018
WHERE: Open Hearth Park, Sydney
WHO: Organized by the Rotary Clubs of the CBRM; presenting sponsor is Destination Membertou
WHY: Food festival to raise funds for Caleb’s Courage and Cancer Patients Care Fund; previous three RibFests raised more than $209,000 for the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton
CO-CHAIRS: John Malcom and Everett Reid
-David Jala, Cape Breton Post