WSAR wind down summer with Wine'd Up 

Food and wine celebration is search and rescue team's biggest annual fundraiser

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Every fall, Whistler Search and Rescue gets a significant cash infusion through a sell-out event called Wine'd Up.

Those who have tickets to the event at Dusty's on Oct. 19 will be digging in to enjoy food prepared by five very popular chefs along with wine provided by Jackson Family Wines.

Chef Bernard Casavant, one of the original creators of the event back in 2000, is making a return visit this year. He will be working with Dustin Harkness of Whistler Cooks Catering, Steve Bjormark of Whistler Blackcomb, Tony Martindale from the Four Seasons and pastry chef Aaron Heath from Araxi Restaurant + Bar.

Casavant was the first executive chef at the Chateau Whistler and he's been missed since his departure for the Okanagan in 2006.

Casavant worked with, amongst others, Doug Forseth of Whistler Blackcomb to launch Wine'd Up. Forseth says he won't be putting on an apron to help out in the kitchen.

"I will have a knife and a fork out front," Forseth jokes.

He says the celebration of food and wine is a great way to bring people together to support WSAR.

Forseth has fond memories of listening to speeches delivered by people rescued by WSAR.

"They bring them in (and some of them have come) great distances — there was a doctor that search and rescue helped from Alberta one time," says Forseth. "Bad things happen to good people that are prepared and these people come in and they speak about their experience and what happened. The power of that moment is electrifying and it really completes the loop between why people are there, and why this money and this effort is important. I think it solidifies the deal. It helps people be more generous."

Since the kick-off of the annual food and wine event, more than $430,000 has been raised.

"Wine'd Up is the single largest source of revenue for our very busy volunteer team," says Brad Sills of WSAR. "Without the support of all the persons who contribute to making this event the success that it is, WSAR would simply not be in a position to fulfill its mandate. The ever-increasing costs of maintaining rescue-quality equipment and training regimes is a constant burden in the face of uncertain funding sources. We are all so privileged to live in a community that recognizes the need for this service."

Along with ticket sales, money for WSAR is generated through live and silent auctions held during the event. Businesses, artists and individuals in Whistler and throughout the province have donated auction items for Wine'd Up.

Whistler Blackcomb is helping out by handling ticket sales. The number to call for the $170 tickets is 1-800-766-0449. Better hurry — it sells out early, so don't be surprised if all the tickets are gone!

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