Shannon Elmer receives $24,440.00 from the BC Hospitality Foundation, BC Paraplegic Foundation, The Bourbon and Fantasy Food 2000. Standing (L-R) Richard Carras (Chair, BC Hospitality Foundation), Ian Reid (The Bourbon), Bernard Fahy (Chair, BC Paraplegic Foundation), Geoffrey Howes (Founder, Fantasy Food 2000). Seated: Shannon Elmer (beneficiary).

Courage in the Face of Challenge

Shannon Elmer, 29, a waitress and bartender from New Westminster, was hit by a skiier in April 2015 while snowboarding on Blackcomb, shattering her C5 vertebrae. She was airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital, where she spent 23 days in intensive care and was then moved to G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre, where she continues to recover.

At the time of her accident, she was employed by The Bourbon in Vancouver, and her employers held a fundraising pub crawl in August to help her and her family with mounting medical costs.

The BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF) offered to meet any funds raised up to $7500.00. “These matched fundraisers are successful because they encourage people to give as much as possible to max out the donation,” says BCHF executive director Alan Sacks.

With the BCHF actively promoting the event through traditional and social media, a groundswell of giving erupted, resulting in a cheque for $16,940.00 to Shannon and her family.

But that’s not where the story ends.

Shannon is eligible for a further grant of an additional $7500, thanks to a partnership between BCHF and the BC Paraplegic Foundation.

Fifteen years ago, prior to the formation of the BC Hospitality Foundation, a fundraiser called Fantasy Food 2000 was held at Vancouver’s Science World to benefit a worker at The Salmon House restaurant, who also suffered from a spinal cord injury. Although Darryl Won ended up passing away shortly thereafter, the money raised was held in trust with the BC Paraplegic Foundation and earmarked to be given to hospitality workers at their time of financial crisis due to spinal cord injuries. Since that time, the original Fantasy Food funds have assisted BCHF beneficiaries, Michael Willingham (2008), Matthew Loring (2011) and now Shannon Elmer.

Fantasy Food founder, Geoffrey Howes, said it is inspiring to see the original fund raiser still making a difference today. “It is awesome that the BC Paraplegic Foundation agreed to support Shannon, increasing her total contribution to nearly $25,000,” he said.

“This is a perfect marriage of two charities coming together to help their communities,” continues Sacks. “We hope that this partnership will lead to an even greater awareness of the Foundation, allowing us to help even more people in a more significant way.”

Shannon Elmer is surrounded by those that helped raise $24,440.00 towards her recovery. Standing (L-R): Chris McBride (Executive Director, Spinal Cord BC), Ian Ried (The Bourbon), Richard Carras (Chair, BCHF), Shelley Milstein (Manager of Philanthropy, Spinal Cord BC), Maureen Brownlee (Manager of Operations, Spinal Cord BC), Geoffrey Howes (Founder, Fantasy Food 2000), Bernard Fahy (Chair, BC Paraplegic Foundation). Seated: Shannon Elmer (beneficiary).
Shannon Elmer is surrounded by those that helped raise $24,440.00 towards her recovery. Standing (L-R): Jim Irving (Director Fundraising & Sponsorship, BCHF), Chris McBride (Executive Director, Spinal Cord BC), Ian Reid (The Bourbon), Richard Carras (Chair, BCHF), Shelley Milstein (Manager of Philanthropy, Spinal Cord BC), Maureen Brownlee (Manager of Operations, Spinal Cord BC), Geoffrey Howes (Founder, Fantasy Food 2000), Bernard Fahy (Chair, BC Paraplegic Foundation), Bing Smith (Past Chair, BCHF). Seated: Shannon Elmer (beneficiary).