Martin C. Barry
The eleventh annual Notte in Bianco, a dress-white fundraising event held on Sept. 6 at the Terrebonne home of Maria and Vincent Guzzo of Cinémas Guzzo, raised around $300,000 to help support innovative children’s mental health research.
Summer white tradition
Based partly on a summertime party tradition the Guzzos brought back to Montreal from the Hamptons on the ocean coast of New York State where they have spent many summers, dress white is considered ‘de rigueur’ each year for Notte In Bianco.
Several hundred guests pay $1,000 a ticket each year to take part in an event that is regarded as a must on the Montreal social calendar. The guest of honor this year was Steve MacLean, a Canadian astronaut who served as a mission specialist on the International Space Station in September 2006. MacLean is also a former president of the Canadian Space Agency.
Shared concern for youth
The Guzzos discovered recently that MacLean shared their concern for youth mental health causes and decided to invite him aboard for their event. “A lot of youths look up to him since it’s every boy’s or girl’s dream to one day become an astronaut,” said Maria Guzzo. “We decided he was the perfect fit.”
MacLean said in an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia that when he was asked, he accepted without hesitation, “because it is an important issue. But especially there are now ways to deal with youth mental health problems. It’s something that if caught early enough, intervention can really make a difference. I’m here to support that.”
Guest star Gloria Gaynor
The evening’s star musical guest was 1970s-era disco queen Gloria Gaynor, best known for her hits ‘I Will Survive’ and ‘Never Can Say Goodbye.’ In the past, Notte In Bianco has welcomed Corey Hart, Taylor Dane, Ginette Reno and many others. This year’s guest list also included Hydro Quebec CEO Michael Penner, Parasuco Jeans founder Sal Parasuco, as well as Nadia Saputo, a member of the Saputo family of Saputo dairy products fame.
Although proceeds from Notte In Bianco went for the first eight years towards a research chair at University of Montreal investigating links between environmental causes and cancer, in 2015 the Guzzos decided that goal had been attained and shifted the focus of their fundraising towards youth mental health.
Numerous causes supported
However, according to Maria Guzzo, part of the funds raised each year through Notte In Bianco continue to support an imaging unit at the Jewish General Hospital’s Pavilion K emergency department, as well as to the Shriners’ Hospital which they also furnished with equipment used for medical imaging.
The imaging units were donated to better accommodate patients at the hospitals’ emergency departments as well as to provide a more functional working environment for health professionals. The units reduce test wait times for patients in emergency, thus shortening waiting times for test information coming from external clinics.