Diana Krall to host star-studded charity performance

VANCOUVER - Breakfast at Tiffany's - along with a $53,000 Wisteria diamond necklace, donated by Tiffany's - is just one of the spectacular items that will be on auction when Diana Krall and her family host their annual fundraiser for blood cancer patients in B.C.

On Feb. 16, Krall will be joined by a stellar lineup of artists including Elton John, James Taylor and her husband Elvis Costello at the invitation-only, black-tie charity event at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

Krall and her family have been deeply committed to funding new research and to supporting the Vancouver General Hospital and UBC Hospital Foundation since her mother, Adella Krall, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1996.

"It was her vision to help patients when she was still in the hospital," said Krall in an interview with The Vancouver Sun.

"I sat on her bed and said, 'Mom, when you get better and if I get successful I will help you do something for others.'"

When her mother passed away in 2002, Krall was already successful - very successful - and with that success she has became even more committed to the promise she made her mother.

Although the event has grown to near-legendary proportions (last year Elton John and his partner David Furnish spontaneously offered a week at their estate in Windsor, England for auction), Krall likes to keep the evening small and intimate.

"This event is about people I love and respect. I like the feel of it, and I want to go around to every table, talk to every person there."

It's the kind of evening where anything can happen. "There are always surprises," said Krall with a laugh. "This is the night when Elvis and I are singing and playing piano together. You never know who might show up. It's just really fun, really a celebration."

She works closely with her sister Michelle Krall-Wigmore - whom she credits as the key organizational force behind the benefits - to make sure each year's fundraiser is unique and feels like a family event.

The care their mother received at VGH, which included a bone-marrow transplant, allowed her six additional years with her family, and inspired Diana and Michelle to reach out in support of other patients and their families.

"In this benefit we are focused on housing for patients' families," Krall-Wigmore said. "When you receive a bone-marrow transplant in B.C., you have to stay in Vancouver for 100 days of after-care. People are living in RV parks. We've heard stories from nurses who are taking families into their homes because they have nowhere else to go.

"The apartment we rented when my mother was sick was $800 a month," Krall said. "It was a struggle for our family. I was just starting out so it was hard for us too."

The annual event also raises funds for the new Hematology Clinical Trials Unit at VGH, which gives patients access to new treatment options.

The six charity benefits Krall has already thrown have raised nearly $4 million.

"We're really proud to have the help of so many generous people who give their time, talent and expertise to this event, which is really about giving people hope," Krall-Wigmore said.

"Particularly Sam Feldman and Steve Macklam ... have helped elevate this event to one of the premier fundraisers in B.C., as well as all the volunteers at the hospital foundation."

In April, the Krall Centre, a new outpatient facility serving the needs of leukemia patients at VGH, was officially dedicated by Krall and her family.

The unique facility was designed by Sarah Richardson as a home-like space, keeping in mind all aspects of patient healing, from the spiritual to the physical.

Posted by Craig B Rushton, CENTURY 21 In Town Realty, 604.505.6503, www.craigrushton.com

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