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Fred UnLEEshed: June 19, 2017

IGNITING CHANGE: Spark Global Philanthropic Foundation was created this year to exemplify all that is special about Canadians.

IGNITING CHANGE: Spark Global Philanthropic Foundation was created this year to exemplify all that is special about Canadians. Founder and philanthropist Abdul Ladha, his wife Hanifa and their teenage daughters Sabrina, 18, and Sophia, 15, are leading the way to teach the next generation of youth ages 13 to 23 to be charitable and giving. Inspired by their parents’ charitable ways, the sisters recruited their Collingwood classmates to take up the challenge to be difference makers. The students responded in spades, creating their own philanthropic portfolios, which would be beneficiaries of the inaugural Spark Gala. Held at the Four Seasons Hotel, the event saw 300 philanthropists, influencers and business and community leaders gather for the extraordinary multigenerational dinner and auction. Exclusive packages commanded top dollars in the live auction, contributing to an impressive $1,050,000 raised at the debut-do. Proceeds will be earmarked for student efforts that include feeding the hungry worldwide, lifting orphans out of poverty in East Africa and supporting refugee families here in Canada.

BELLA BUBBLES AND REDS: Prosecco wines have seen a sharp increase in popularity globally and in B.C., and it's easy to see why. Light, refreshing, and great value — priced less than a bottle of champagne — Prosecco has become the party wine of choice. Twenty per cent of the Prosecco production comes from Conegliano Voldobbiadene Prosecco Superiore located in the Veneto wine region of northern Italy, home to Valpolicella. Valpolicella is another famous grape known for its variety of red wines — from light fragrant reds to the strong and structured Amorone. The consortium was recently in town to promote their latest releases, and there was plenty of good wine to taste. Olga Bussinello, director for the Tutelage of Valpolicella DOC Wines, and Giulia Pussini, from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Wine Council, fronted the one-day seminar and wine dinner. Showcasing their wines versatility, they partnered with Miku Japanese Restaurant chef du cuisine Yoshita Miyamoto for a multi-course feast. To the delight of foodies and wine enthusiasts, the wines, which naturally stand well on its own, pleased palettes when paired with the many flavours of the contemporary Japanese cuisine.

SUCCESSFUL NIGHT: The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre presented its annual Night at the Aquarium, presented by PCl Constructors. Attendees once again enjoyed a wonderful evening of food and drink amidst the stunning backdrop of the aquarium' stunning galleries. Led by party chairs Tina Rowntree and Bert Hick, the couple welcomed guests to the collaborative Ocean Wise four-course dinner prepared by Vancouver’s top chefs Ned Bell, Robert Clark, Frank Pabst and James Walt. This year's gala-do marked a turning point in the organization's storied 61 years. CEO John Nightingale announced the firm's Ocean Wise program has gone global. Founded a dozen years ago as a sustainable seafood effort, adopted by many producers, fishermen and chefs on the West Coast, the program is looking to expand its reach to become a world leader in ocean-conservation focused on protecting and restoring the world’s ocean, and identifying other champions to support healthy waters. The new strategy resonated with patrons as they generously contributed more than $380,000 to the aquarium's ocean conservation programs, education outreach initiatives and the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

FEEDING THE SOUL: A Loving Spoonful's Project Empty Bowl continues to serve up not only a good time for party guests but healthy nutritious meals and counseling to hundreds of individuals and families affected by HIV and co-existing illnesses in the Lower Mainland. That was the message delivered by executive director Lisa Martella at the charity's yearly gala staged at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. Presented by Deans Knight Capital Management, the event drew 400 guests. Picking up a handcrafted bowl created by talented B.C. potters, they would fill their vessels with culinary delights created by hotel executive chef Justin Paakkunainen. After much grazing at the food stations, attendees would settle in for the spirited live auction of one-of-a-kind artworks orchestrated by Crystal Campbell. Works by Foster Eastman, Susan Point and Stuart Slind garnered the evening's top bids. They would contribute to another $100,000 raised for the venerable health organization that delivers more than 100,000 meals annually.

Hear Fred Mondays 8:20am on CBC Radio’s The Early Edition AM690 and 88.1FM; Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @FredAboutTown