Tickets and tables are now on sale for the 14th Annual Maddy’s Gala.
The fundraiser for Roger Neilson House is hosted by the Otto family of Barrhaven as a celebration of Maddy Otto, who passed away from an inoperable tumour at Roger Neilson House at the age of 5 in 2007.
Maddy was entering senior kindergarten at Jockvale Public School.
The first Maddy’s Gala was organized by a group of friends in 2008. At the time, the goal of the event was to raise $10,000 for Roger Neilson House. Heading into this year’s event, the Otto’s and their team of friends and supports have raised more than a million dollars as a legacy to Maddy.
The last Maddy’s Gala took place in the winter of 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The last two events had to be cancelled because of the pandemic and restrictions.
“There were times when we wondered if there would be another gala,” admitted Jeanine Otto, Maddy’s mother. “But we have surpassed a million dollars and there is still a lot of momentum. People are interested in the gala and they are looking forward to the event.”
Maddy’s Gala has grown into one of the premier fundraising events of the year in Ottawa. Dean and Jeanine Otto, and their oldest daughter Hannah, have become one of Ottawa’s best known philanthropic families.
“There will be some changes to the gala this year,” Jeanine said. “We won’t be showing the video of the photos of Maddy that we have in the past. We also have an 80s theme for this year’s gala.”
On July 15, 2007, the Otto family was at the lake, building their family cottage. Maddy had a nap, and when she woke up, she was speaking with a slur and there was something not quite right. They decided to take her to CHEO. They learned that she had a seizure during her nap.
Maddy had another seizure shortly after arriving at CHEO. A CT scan showed that she had a brain tumour that had ruptured. It was inoperable. The little five-year-old girl that had been the spark of their lives and the life of every room she had ever been in was now being given 24 to 48 hours to live.
Within a day, the Ottos were surrounded by family members. They came from Peterborough, where Dean was from. They also came from New Brunswick, where Jeanine was from. They even had relatives arrive from Alberta and the Yukon.
Two days after her initial seizure, she was moved to Roger’s House, where she passed away surrounded by family and friends. She died peacefully at Roger’s House, surrounded by a strong and loving family. A sudden death of a child would crush a typical family, but there is nothing typical about the Ottos. They have celebrated her life by creating a legacy of fundraising that has been driven by the strength, courage and love of their little girl.
From its humble beginnings, the event has grown through the years to become one of the premier events of the year for the Sens Foundation and Roger Neilson House.
This year’s event takes place at the Infinity Centre Sat., April 29.
For more information on Maddy’s Gala or to purchase tickets or a table, visit www.maddysgala.com.