Whisky, Wine & MR Menswear fundraiser nets tens of thousands for Cancer Centre

·2 min read

Whiskey, Wine & MR Menswear, a men’s charity fashion show hosted by local business owner Mike Rathke, has raised tens of thousands for the Stronach Regional Health Centre at Southlake.

Now in its second year, the event took place November 20 at the NewRoads Performing Arts Centre (formerly Newmarket Theatre) and featured an array of fashions showcased at Rathke’s MR Menswear (located at Yonge and Church Streets), each modelled by physicians and board members from Southlake Regional Health Centre.

A two-time survivor, Mr. Rathke has been a long-time fundraiser for the local cancer centre, knowing how important it is to have quality cancer care close to home, but this year was something special.

After months of lockdowns and challenges for small businesses, the community came out in droves to support both the cause and Mr. Rathke, turning the event into a complete sell-out.

“It meant a heck of a lot, it was just incredible,” Mr. Rathke told The Auroran on Friday afternoon. “I was almost in tears and we had a lot of people there in tears when I was giving my speech thanking them for coming out. It was an awesome night and it meant so much to me. What also meant so much to me were all the compliments I got throughout the whole night, not just about the fashion show but people checking up on me business-wise to see how I have been doing over the last few months. It was so personal and amazing.”

The event is indeed personal for Mr. Rathke on many levels.

Just a few months before COVID hit, he was being treated at Southlake when one of last Wednesday’s participating doctors, who had modelled for the show in previous years, popped in just to check on him.

“We all felt like we were brothers,” he said. “I have a business in Aurora, but Aurora is like family to me. This event is going to be a tough one to top. Everyone has been locked up for COVID, so it was nice to get out and see friends and neighbours, too. I am sure that my suppliers who came to the event were blown away, too. I am sure they have been to lots of fundraisers, but this one felt like such a personal event they said they were coming in big time next year – and I think we have already booked a date for next year.”

As for that date, it is a matter of watch this space, but in the years ahead, Mr. Rathke says he is looking for opportunities to host the event once again in Aurora.

Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran

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