TWILLINGATE, NL - On April 23, Nicholas Gates will host his ninth annual concert in support of the Janeway Hospital.
The Grade 11 student and his family are dedicated to helping the children's hospital because of a family connection.
“My cousin, Jacob Boudreau, was born with a rare liver disease and without the Janeway, he wouldn't even be here,” Gates said. “I just wanted to give something back.”
Gates was only in Grade 3 when he started the fundraising shows.
“For the first couple of years, my parents and family did most of the organizing. We still work together but I take care of the music and performers,” he said.
Jacob 10, is one of the performers each year, as is Gates himself. The rest of the performers range in age from five through 17 and perform wearing t-shirts Gates designed.
Gates, who performed Johnny Cash's “I Walk The Line” at the very first show, has sung and played guitar for one or two country songs or local favourites at each subsequent event. The community of Twillingate comes together to support it every year, and has raised over $26,000 for the Janeway.
“We go to businesses and get prizes and donations,” Gates said. “Almost any business you approach will give you something. We get a lot of support.”
In addition, the concert location is always provided free of charge. This year's event was at the Twillingate/NWI Dinner Theatre. Previous events were held at the Lions Club, the North East Church Museum, and at the Crow Head Community Centre.
No matter where the event is held, each show attracts a crowd ranging from 150 to 200 people who come out to enjoy the youth performances and support the Janeway. Community groups like the Lions Club also do their part.
“Every year, we receive a request from Nicholas for a donation for the fundraiser,” said Lion Howard Butt, a retired educator who emceed the concert in its early years. “We discuss the request at a meeting and decide how much to donate. This year, we decided to raise our donation from a small amount to $5,000.”
The Lions Club held a dinner April 16 and invited Gates, Boudreau and their families to receive the donation. Before attending, Gates knew the dinner invitation meant an increased donation but the whole family was thrilled by the amount.
“Most years, the whole concert makes about $3,000 to $3,500,” he said. “This year, we have more than that before we even get started.”
Butt says the Lions were pleased to donate to such a worthy cause and they enjoyed making the family so happy.
“You should have seen the look on their faces,” he said. “Nicholas' mother was glowing.”