When Stephen Christie and Mary Anne Cummings moved to Collingwood and established their law firm, they wanted to establish a meaningful presence while also raising funds for a central cause in the community. Fortunately for the Foundation, they chose to direct their philanthropic efforts to the Collingwood G&M Hospital. Together with Stephen’s spouse, Jennifer, they created their annual, legendary, Christie/Cummings Ski Day, which ran for 21 consecutive years.
With a grassroots mentality and a team that operated like a well-oiled machine, this trio consistently hosted an event that was fun, wildly entertaining, and incredibly successful at bringing in funds to support CGMH’s Orthopaedics.
“I think what was so special about this event is the continued support of participants year after year,” says Jennifer, “We established a caring group of individuals who came out for year one, but then came back every year. They made the event a priority. It was a rare opportunity for them to come together, and they looked forward to it every year.”
The Christie/Cummings Ski Day has made a tremendous impact on healthcare in our community, raising over $800,000 for the Collingwood G&M Hospital. While the funds were typically designated to the Orthopaedics Department, they have also benefited other areas of the hospital such as patient room renovations, emergency room upgrades, diagnostic imaging equipment, and more.
“We felt that the Christie/Cummings Ski Day was a great way to introduce new people to the Foundation and bring awareness to the need to fund our hospital. Through our personal networks and word of mouth, we were able to mobilize a passionate group of skiers and rally them around such an important institution in our community. And, we had a ton of fun doing it” – Stephen Christie.
After a full day of on-hill activities, the crowd at the après was welcomed by Stephen and entertained by his no holds-barred roasting of local “dignitaries” and participants. “If you were there, you could expect to get your chops busted”, says Stephen Christie (with a bit of a mischievous glint in his eye).
When it came to the silent auction and draw prizes, this team didn’t hold back. Each year, Jennifer Christie and her incredible volunteers would source fantastic items from local merchants, businesses, and artisans. While some of the prizes and auction items were quite large, the most famous may be Susie Saunderson’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. These cookies were so sought after that, one year, someone bid $160 for one dozen cookies!
With no shortage of activities at the ski day, guests enthusiastically participated in a friendly “guess your time” race, ski-lessons and the infamous heads or tails feather game at the après. During the day, they were pampered with on-site messages by Marsden Wellness Centre.
“The event really brought the community together” says Mary Anne. “Not only was it a chance to ski with people you wouldn’t normally ski with, it also made Osler Bluff Ski Club accessible to non-members. People really enjoyed getting to ski at a private club while also supporting the hospital. Osler was always very generous in supporting this event. We are so grateful for their support all those years.”
The team always looked forward to the tallying up of the funds raised as a result of their hard work and planning. “We always presented an oversized cheque at the end of the day for the amount raised. It felt great and recognized the generous collective contribution of the participants to the hospital Foundation”, says Jennifer.
The Christie/Cummings Ski Day was a remarkable tradition that not only brought in much-need funds for the Collingwood G&M Hospital, but it was also a beautiful tradition for the community it created. Fond memories have been made and relationships have been built that will last a lifetime. At the Collingwood G&M Hospital Foundation, we are incredibly grateful to Jennifer Christie, Mary Anne Cummings and Stephen Christie, Osler Bluff Ski Club, and the volunteers who put so much work into hosting this event. It was no small feat. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.