Heart of Gold gala raises $1 million for cardiac care

Fundraiser co-chairs John and Maria Byland share their story about her treatment and recovery from a heart attack.

John and Maria Byland.

It was recently a record-breaking evening for the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, as the Heart of Gold fundraiser brought in $1 million in support of Interior Health’s cardiac sciences program at Kelowna General Hospital.

The event, which included a dinner and auction, was co-chaired by John and Maria Byland, owners of Byland Nursery in West Kelowna. (www.kghfoundation.com)

“This is an outcome that far exceeded our expectations,” said Nancy Walstrom, with the KGH Foundation.  “We knew we had a generous philanthropic community here.  But this is absolutely unprecedented,”

The dinner was prepared by the Okanagan Chef’s Association, while the Bylands shared their own story to help put the issue of cardiac care in a personal perspective.

On an evening last February, John and Maria went dancing and to dinner, as they have many times before.  But just a few hours later, Maria was in the emergency department at KGH in full cardiac arrest.

“I’ve been given a second chance,” Maria told the audience. “I was very lucky to have survived the event.  But I had to wait 13 days for a bed in Vancouver to treat my condition. Together, tonight, we can make a difference.”

“We have made great strides on the vascular (plumbing) side of cardiology over the last several years, including the opening of the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre in 2015,” added Dr. Frank Halperin, head of cardiology at Kelowna General Hospital.

“But our goal is to have a fully functional heart program here in Kelowna, so people in our region, like Maria, don’t have to wait for a bed in Vancouver or Victoria; so that the level of cardiac care provided at KGH rivals the best hospitals in the country.”

Charitable supporter Tom Budd, who heads up his Thomas Alan Budd Foundation, was the title sponsor for the fundraiser, saying, “People ask me why do I give? I have given for many reasons in my life. If you just give more than you take, you have purpose, a life worth living. Giving has saved my life. Giving has changed my life.”

Kelowna Capital News

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

149 cases of COVID-19 linked to Kelowna

Nine new cases were reported in the Interior Health region over the long weekend’s four reporting periods

Former Kelowna resident makes fundraising goal for cancer fertility treatments

Rebecca Hamilton recieved a boost in a battle against cancer - $25,000 for post chemo treatments

No appointment needed: COVID-19 testing access expanded in Kelowna

First-come, first-serve testing centre opens in downtown Kelowna

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Passengers escape unharmed from destructive houseboat fire in Shuswap

Cause of blaze on Mara Lake under investigation, flames erupt at 2 a.m. Aug. 4

Alberta vehicles allegedly damaged in Summerland

Lug nuts loosened, windows smashed in several instances in Okanagan community

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

UPDATE: Water bombers attack wildfire north of Sicamous above Shuswap Lake

Wildfire BC reports fire is still classified out of control, 25 personnel on ground

First degree murder charges for North Okanagan woman

59-year-old woman charged in Round Lake suspicious death incident

Most Read