top of page

Gaye Kearns

2011 Aurora

For single mom, Gaye Kearns, living life is about family, friends and getting the most out of every day. That’s why her involvement in the Southlake Mardi Gras Gala is still going strong after eight years – it’s an exciting event that brings the community together for a fun night, with far reaching benefits.

Mother to two teenagers, Bryan 19 and Andrea 17, Gaye was already stretched time-wise, so when the opportunity to work on the Mardi Gras came up she wasn’t sure she could fit it in. Deciding to jump in and try anyway, she has discovered the benefits in her own life. “Mardi Gras has helped me grow my group of friends – it’s so much fun having friends from so many different places.”

Gaye’s charity history began when she decided to take ballet lessons at the Jaymor School of Dance in Aurora. She wanted a venue to meet people and have fun, and it opened the door to charitable opportunities. While there, she was approached by John O’Bireck to join the Mom’s & Dad’s dance group. From there the opportunity to join the Mardi Gras committee was presented – it was hard to say no to her new friends!

Mardi Gras for Southlake Gala is an excellent match for Gaye’s joie de vive approach to life! It is a fun, colourful, scrumptious event that raises funds for the Southlake Regional Hospital Cancer Centre. The 2011 event took place at Aurora’s DiNardo’s Mansion, which was converted into New Orleans with the help of a two story Bourbon Street façade. The magical night included silent auction items showcased in shop windows, and food and Hurricane drinks supplied by the many featured restaurants. Some of the fun activities were fortune tellers, buskers, face painters, stilt walkers, artists and musicians, as well as a home style multi-course Cajun dinner.[1]

A Marketing Manager in the Partner Marketing Program, at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, Gaye loves the creative aspects of her job, and she uses them to help coordinate this yearly charity extravaganza. She has built the silent auction aspect of the event over her tenure with the Mardi Gras, and still manages it with help from the committee. Donations for the silent auction have increased over the life of the event. “I was amazed this year, more than any year, how many people donated to the auction – there are a lot of very giving people in this town. Friends bring in friends; I get to know the town, the people, and I can bring in new vendors and businesses every year.”

Gaye’s love of the entertainment industry, and her interest in singing, enhance her qualifications for the Mardi Gras Gala. Gaye was a student of Cheryn-Lyn Bachman for two years, where she studied singing. The people of Florida occasionally benefit from Gaye’s hard work, where she sings in high end lounges with a friend for the sheer pleasure of it.

An extension of the Mardi Gras Gala is the Mardi Gras Golf Tournament, which ran in 2009 and 2010. Gaye was involved in organizing this event as well, which raises funds for Southlake Cardiac Care. A part of the façade of Bourbon Street was used to dress up King Valley Golf Club for a fun Mardi Gras inspired charity tournament. Many of the elements that are used in the Gala were incorporated in the Golf Tournament. The carts were decorated, a jazz band provided entertainment, and there was a ‘best costume’ event. The day wrapped up with a fun after-party. Many of the hard working committee members from the Mardi Gras Gala, like Gaye, ensured a fun event that resulted in more dollars for Southlake Regional Hospital research and care.[2]

While fun is the theme for these events, the seriousness of the cause is only too clear to Gaye. As someone who takes joy in the company of others, Gaye also feels the pain of cancer sufferers, their friends and family. “Nancy and Michael Dinner’s son had cancer. Michael got up and spoke about the experience. It was very moving. Treatment was very successful, but that is when it really hits home; when people talk about their own experiences.’

The benefits of giving back to her community far outweigh the work Gaye puts into it. “I feel like a better person, and I’ve become very close to the people on the Mardi Gras committee. The committee is made up of busy volunteers who still find time to give Mardi Gras 110%! It’s the whole team and commitment that makes our event so great, not just one individual! Then it became about helping friends, friends of friends, and family of friends. None of us are safe from cancer. And when the event comes together, there’s a sense of accomplishment at the end of it that goes far beyond the dollars raised.”

What’s next for Gaye? “Maybe the walk for breast cancer, and to donate to charity where I can. I try to donate to anyone who asks. I try to be open to opportunities as they come up – and just be a nice person. After all, life is too short.” Carpe Diem Gaye!

* Bio written by Heather Anne Lambert,


bottom of page