Off to the races for Autism Canada
Ladies’ Night committee members beam with pleasure after announcing that $25,000 had been raised for Autism Canada at the 14th annual fundraiser, held on Fri., May 5, in Russell. Left to right are Kelly Jobson, Laurie Mawlam of Autism Canada, Lynda Kemp, Kristina Bercier, Suzanne Perras Campbell, Laurel Gillespie-Gibbons of Autism Canada, Linda Duhamel hidden behind her, Suzanne Stefura, Lynne Rochon, Sarah Dupont, Judy McFaul, Michelle St. Pierre, and Tara Shannon.                                                  Vetter photo

Candice Vetter
Villager Staff
RUSSELL — Once again the Russell Agricultural Society’s Ladies’ Night raised thousands of dollars for a great cause. The Hats, Horses & Wishes dinner and auction event on Fri., May 5, at the Russell Arena raised $25,000 for Autism Canada.

“All proceeds from the silent and live auctions totalling $20,000, plus $5,000 through Scotiabank’s Team Scotia Community Program, were donated directly to Autism Canada,” said Lynne Rochon, co-chair and Scotiabank account manager.

Over 500 women filled the arena, which was decked out in the theme of being “off to the races,” at the Kentucky Derby, which is also held on the first weekend in May. Like at the Derby, summer dresses and outrageous hats were in abundance. As usual, the only men present were working, at the bar, the registration tables, onstage, at the auction, as ushers, or selling game cards.

Laurel Gillespie Gibbons spoke on behalf of Autism Canada and the event was emceed by local resident and lauded musician Tara Shannon, who has just released her first album, Unfinished, and by long-time volunteer Sébastien Pilon.
“The money raised will be used to fund a scientific symposium,” said Chantale Pomerleau of Autism Canada, “which will bring together scientists, researchers and clinicians from across North America and Europe to share cutting-edge research on autism.”

Mark your calendar for next year’s 15th anniversary celebration on May 4, 2018.

For more information on the year-round activities of the Russell Agricultural Society, visit