Summerland grape growers issue fundraising challenge

Gerry and Kathy Ryan have donated $5,000 to the Tree of Dreams fundraising campaign

Gerry and Kathy Ryan, owners of a vineyard in Summerland, are challenging other grape growers in the region to support the Penticton Regional Hospital.

The Ryans planted a 2.8-hectare vineyard overlooking Okanagan Lake eight years ago.

This year, they have donated $5,000 to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation in support of its annual Tree of Dreams fundraising campaign. They are asking other grape growers to match that amount.

Gerry said since most grape growers get paid for their crop in December, this is a good time to issue the challenge.

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“Usually it’s this time of year when most of the vineyards are being paid for the crop they’ve sold to the wineries,” he said. “The vineyard and wine industry is a major employer and source of commerce in the Okanagan Similkameen.”

The Ryans have direct connections to the hospital. Gerry is the past-chair on the SOS Medical Foundation’s board and has been a director for 12 years. Kathy works as a volunteer at the SOS Café in the lobby of the hospital’s new David E. Kampe Tower.

“We think the Medical Foundation is a worthwhile charity for us to support. The hospital serves us all – everybody benefits from having the best healthcare available,” Gerry said.

Kathy said she has learned some new skills, including being a barista, at the SOS Café which directs its profits to the hospital through the medical foundation.

“I’ve never made a latte before – and even handling cash was never something I’ve ever done before. It’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Carey Bornn, the foundation’s executive director, said any additional support from grape growers would be a welcome addition to the Tree of Dreams campaign.

This year’s goal of $925,000 will be used to fund a second specialized hip surgery table, new mammography machine, EEG (electroencephalogram) unit and new colonoscopy scopes at the hospital.

To donate, contact the medical foundation at 250-492-9027 or visit their website at www.sosmedicalfoundation.com.

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