The money raised at last summer’s Raymond Dietrich Memorial Barbecue fundraiser went to support two local charities, with separate cheque presentations taking place last month.
Kate’s Kause, an Elmira-based charity, received $11,500, while the Woolwich Sun Rays, a local para ice hockey team, benefitted $5,000.
“It is so uplifting to have a group of people recognize our inclusive mandate and support us like this,” said Kate’s Kause founder Kelly Meissner. “We were stunned at the amount of the donation, and it’s all thanks to the big hearts of Will Jamieson and Greg Demeuleneare.”
Kate’s Kause is aimed at raising awareness for Angelman’s syndrome and fundraising for inclusive community projects. Meissner said the donation money would entirely be used to help fund the $200,000 accessible washroom project at Kate’s Place for Everyone at Gibson Park in Elmira.
The Woolwich Sun Rays on the other hand, is a very personal cause for the Raymond Dietrich organizers. The Sun Rays are an ice hockey team open to special needs participants of all skill levels.
The barbecue fundraiser and the hockey team are both named after Raymond Dietrich, a local, fun-loving, caring sports fan who lived with Down syndrome. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 48. Raymond was the inspiration behind the Woolwich Sun Rays.
Both charities share a similar vision of creating a more inclusive and accessible environment across Woolwich Township.
“I would like to give a giant thank-you to everybody that helps support the barbecue every year, a giant thank-you to Kate’s Kause and the Woolwich Sun Rays,” said Chris Pope, a Raymond Dietrich Memorial committee member.
“It’s Woolwich community … there was never a doubt in our minds that we would have the support, but I don’t know if we ever thought we’d get this kind of support.”
The memorial barbecue took place in August 2019 at the Waterloo Rod & Gun club in St. Jacobs. It drew in record attendance, selling out some 180 tickets at $50 apiece.
The event has grown consistently since its inception three years ago, and organizers are looking for ways to expand further, such as including live music, for their 2020 barbecue.