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Sued sponsor mars Owen Hart Foundation comedy show
Published Thursday, May 21, 2015 11:25AM MDT
Calgary-based Owen Hart Foundation announced its major fundraiser Tuesday. Saturday Night Live alum Seth Meyers will headline a comedy night at the Jubilee Auditorium in October. Tickets for that event go on sale Monday, May 25. However, the charity is still dealing with a fundraising fiasco from its annual comedy night last year.
A Dane Cook benefit was supposed to bring in thousands of dollars to support the foundation's charitable endeavours, such as helping low income families with home ownership, but the headline sponsor did not pay up. A CTV investigation has revealed the sponsor has a number of debts and likelihood the charity will recoup its losses is slim.
A company called Trago Tequila and Trago's Canadian rep Dave Lavoie promised Dr. Martha Hart $50 thousand dollars, in exchange for the headline sponsorship position. Court documents show Lavoie never came through with the money. Lavoie says his business fell on hard times, and he intends to repay the money when he can.
"When I was introduced to Martha, I was under the impression she'd lost all her sponsorship and had no major sponsor," Lavoie tells CTV, "so we recognized an opportunity."
However, some of Lavoie's employees say he owes them money too, in one case, wages and vacation pay totalling $17 thousand dollars. A court search shows Lavoie has dealt with multiple mortgage foreclosures, one as recently as last month. Fundraising expert Andrea McManus says it's important for non profit organizations to research their sponsorship partners thoroughly before entering arrangements with them, and if something does go wrong, be open with the other donors and participants.
"You have to be really transparent and you have to be honest and you have to let your other donors know," says McManus, "but you also have to demonstrate you did your due diligence."
Martha Hart, Owen Hart's widow, confirms what happened, but disputes Lavoie's perspective that the event had lost sponsorships. She tells CTV she is paying the legal expenses for going after Trago and Lavoie. Until he can get his financial house in order, her writ of enforcement to collect the $50 thousand dollars will only be symbolic.