Matched Fundraiser Drives Support for BC Grape Grower

Matched Fundraiser Drives Support for BC Grape Grower

Mike Watson, 2016 BCHF beneficiary, stands with his wife and three children.

Until February 26, the BC Hospitality Foundation is matching all funds raised up to $7500, via a YouCaring site for Mike Watson, a leader in the BC wine industry, who is in desperate need of a liver transplant.

“The outpouring from the community has been incredible,” says Alan Sacks, executive director of the BC Hospitality Foundation. “We have seen a dramatic upswing in donations to Mike’s YouCaring page since we announced the matching funds. Our matched fundraising initiatives prove to be a powerful tool, which in some cases can double or even triple the total level of support to one of our beneficiaries. When people see that their dollar can instantly turn into two, it encourages increased giving in order to max out the potential donation to the recipient.”

Watson, a much-loved champion of BC wine, and the national viticulturist for Constellations Brands, will need to travel to Hong Kong in the coming days to receive this life-saving surgery. Due to its urgency, the treatment is not covered by his health plan, and will require an upfront payment of $100,000, with an estimated final cost of approximately $150,000. As a beloved husband and father to three young children, his condition is rocking his family to the core. Their urgent appeal has rallied his community to support the fundraiser in true industry fashion. And in order to stimulate more donations, wineries and others have donated additional prizes. Learn more and donate HERE.

Mike’s Story: 

For more than 15 years, Mike Watson has worked with Constellation Brands, a company which operates such recognized brands as Jackson Triggs, Inniskillin, Nk’Mip Cellars, See Ya Later Ranch, and Sumac Ridge, among others. He is also the past chair of the BC Wine Grape Council, an organization that co-ordinates, facilitates, and funds research and education on viticulture and enology, to broadly benefit the British Columbia wine grape industry and to represent growers on a variety of agriculture related issues.

Mike Watson, the chairperson of the BC Wine Grape Council, toasts a $2 million dedication of funds from the federal government at Grey Monk Estate Winery with a glass of pinot gris; the owner of Grey Monk was the first to grow the varietal in Canada, planting the vines in 1976. — Image Credit: Jennifer Smith
Image Credit: Jennifer Smith

Mike was hospitalized this past December with an un-diagnosed illness that left him unable to work. Complications, including blood clots and declining kidney function have since have left him with no other alternative than to seek a liver transplant. Due to the urgency of his diagnosis, he is not eligible for coverage in Canada under his current health plan, and is forced to seek the operation either in the United States or overseas. The family is leveraging its few assets in order to come up with the monumental costs associated with this procedure, but also know that the road to recovery will be long. Mike is currently resting at Penticton Regional Hospital until the date and location of his transplant is confirmed.

Their family finances are further challenged since his wife doesn’t currently work, choosing to stay at home to care for the youngest of their three children, who suffers from a severe condition known as Brittle Bones disease (Osteogenesis Imperfecta). The costs related to her ongoing treatment are significant.

The goal of this fundraiser is to relieve the financial pressure from the family so they can focus on treatment and recovery.

For more information on Mike and to donate to his campaign directly, click HERE.