NH Gala 2023The Niverville Nighthawks are hosting their first red carpet gala this month. The fundraiser is scheduled to take place February 23 at the Niverville Heritage Centre with appetizers and drinks at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and a program at 6:45 p.m.
The gala will welcome Manitoba-born Canadian Football League legend Andrew Harris. Harris made history last season as the first Canadian in league history to surpass 10,000 career rushing yards.
Harris is also a four-time Grey Cup champion and two-time Grey Cup Most Valuable Canadian. At the 2019 Grey Cup, he was named the Most Valuable Player.
Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen will also speak at the event. Goertzen will join Harris and MJHL commissioner Kevin Saurette in a special “hockey hot stove” segment that evening.
The evening will feature both a silent auction and a live auction.
One of those prize packages has been donated by Clarence Braun, president of the Nighthawks board.
“I will be providing a live auction gift of a catered backyard party for 20 guests,” Braun says. “Included in that package will be appetizers, prime rib or beef tenderloin, and beverages for the evening.”
The other live auction prizes will include a veritable feast of possibilities, including a Lake of the Woods fishing trip with John Monteith, a wrapped Nighthawks mini-fridge, beer for a year from Torque Brewing, paintings from local artists, pro hockey jerseys, four Jets tickets, a signed Scheifele jersey, as well as a host of Nighthawks merchandise.
The gala will be hosted by Kevin Pauls, the voice of the Nighthawks, and in-house game announcer Kevin Dunn. The program will also feature a video presentation about the history of the creation of the franchise and a highlight reel of the inaugural season.
There will also be player introductions and a presentation from a billet family.
Kelvin Cech, head coach of the Nighthawks, says that running an MJHL team is an expensive venture and he is grateful for the strong support he gets from the team’s board of directors.
“We are just excited that [the board] care enough about us and the players to put something like this on,” Cech says. “Hopefully [we can] raise some funds to make this team even bigger and better in the future.”
Braun considers the evening a celebration of the Nighthawks. “It’s an opportunity to gather together the people that have been part of our journey—from the founders to the volunteers, to the players, and the community at large—and just provide a perspective on where we’ve come from and how far we’ve come in year one.”
Braun first considered the idea of bringing an MJHL franchise to Niverville in 2007. He had a vision for Niverville to host hockey at its highest junior level in order to give the community something to rally around.
“One of the highlights of every game for me has been the social interaction of people,” says Braun. “Before the game [and] between periods, I’ve had fans say to me, ‘I haven’t known what to do in Niverville, but this has provided me with an incredible outlet to meet people.’ It’s not just a game. It’s entertainment, yes, but the social aspect has been incredibly meaningful to me. And to know that what started as a dream has now brought the community together… that’s what we want to celebrate.”
Tickets to attend the gala are $150 per person or $1,200 for a table of eight.