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A night of 'Living in Harmony'

by MEG RYAN/Special to The Press
| February 19, 2023 1:00 AM

A night of "Living in Harmony" is precisely what the community did Feb. 4 at Hospice of North Idaho's 38th annual Wine Taste and Auction.

With over 400 guests and sponsors at The Coeur d'Alene Resort, attendees raised their glasses and bidder numbers to raise over $260,000 to support the area's nonprofit hospice of over 42 years.

This year was a Japanese theme, with nods to cherry blossom embellishments, architectural structures and Japanese parasols and lanterns hanging around the room. Guests felt immersed in the culture.

The evening consisted of local wine distributors showcasing the finest wines, 13 local food vendors with gourmet appetizers and desserts, a silent auction and 19 live auction packages, such as a Seattle Seahawks package, a trip to Waikiki and a Gonzaga basketball package, to name a few.

The "Paddle Raise" portion of the Live Auction brought in over $70,000 for Hospice of North Idaho's Schneidmiller Hospice House, for specialized equipment deemed the "Cuddle Bed."

"As I stood watching people raise their hands in offering to support our efforts to buy another one or two Cuddle Beds for the Schneidmiller House through a paddle raise, I witnessed a spirit of generosity and kindness I've never seen before," said Executive Director Eric Ladwig. "One of our generous supporters offered to match thousands of dollars worth of contributions to every person that gave, irrespective of the amount pledged; I saw a love for one another and a love for our community shining in the eyes of every individual. Their gift is priceless to those who will spend hours or minutes with their arms wrapped around the one they love as they prepare to leave this life. Our paddle raise ultimately was an incredible success, and we are looking forward to purchasing not one or two, but three to four new beds with these amazingly generous donations."

Toward the end of the evening, with the last few live auction packages left to bid on, our second to the final live auction package was a 7-week-old silver Labrador puppy, temporarily named "Harmony," which was donated by Mountain Labradors, a Washington-based dog breeder, specializing in silver and yellow Labradors since 2005.

With their six children, Mountain Labradors owners Rima and Brian Crossley have donated a puppy for the Live Auction since 2012. When they were contacted years ago, Rima knew this event would be a unique way to spread joy to others. "I became a nurse five years ago, and our family is always wanting to help others; we are happy to help each year," said Rima.

The Live Auction bidding for the puppy took off as Matt and Rose Backs of Elite Auction Inc. paid close attention to each bid number raised. The puppy was so calm in the Event Chair and former Executive Director Kim Ransier's arms as she walked around the room, showing him off to guests. Suddenly one of the event's catering sponsors, supporters, and owner of The Village Bakery, Dana, spoke up that one of her employees, Abbey, who made the themed macarons and was helping that evening, had recently lost her service animal, Luke, of 10 years.

Abbey had been feeling that heartbreak for a while, but once she saw the puppy, she felt that connection. Immediately the crowd knew that this special dog needed to belong to her. Dana and her husband Todd won the bid, turned to Abbey, and said, "Go get your puppy!" which caused Abbey to burst into tears. There wasn't a dry eye in the room!

Since then, the puppy has been named "Baker," after The Village Bakery, and is already following commands and training with his new owner. Abbey has felt healing since Baker came into her life, and she can't wait for him to help others heal, with her hope for him to spread love to the baker's patrons, the local community and on social media.

This event continues to be one of the best in-person fundraisers in our area, put on by a group of people with a heart for hospice. Hospice of North Idaho would like to thank every person who volunteered, donated, sponsored and attended the event.

The money raised from this annual event helps Hospice of North Idaho continue to provide compassionate care for those who are seriously ill and those touched by loss in Kootenai, Shoshone and Benewah counties.