W. Brett Wilson’s charity birthday party co-hosted by his furriest best friend
By Jon Nelson
If you know W. Brett Wilson, you’ll know that any party of his is about more than just the good times – they are always also fantastic opportunities to raise awareness and funds for important charities and causes. And there may not be a more fabulous summer social event than Brett’s garden party: a massive, invite-only soirée of brightly dressed friends and family with one very special, four-legged co-host.
J. Cash Wilson dons a massive bow-tie for the occasion and poses for endless photos with esteemed guests, making sure everyone gets a picture worth putting up on the fridge as a memento. As Brett’s best friend, this pup has undoubtedly seen his share of special events held within and without the walls of the home they share. But this one is definitely his favorite, seeing as it is outside under warm summer skies, with guests who are in particularly good moods – and happy to lavish plenty of attention on him.
As the guest of honor, we’d love for J. Cash to give us the inside scoop and maybe a little hot gossip from the party. But as he’s sworn to secrecy, we’ve settled for a Q+A with his pop, W. Brett Wilson.
Tell us a brief history behind the garden party:
This event was originally conceived as a birthday celebration for a close friend who shared my birthday — we were both July 1st babies. It started with 100 people and evolved into a significant awareness-raising/fundraising event in Calgary, with over 1,200 people confirmed this year.
Why do you do it?
Creating goodwill within the community and raising awareness for causes close to me and my family is the goal; fundraising for those causes is an outcome. I work with a team who can collaborate with both passion and experience in terms of creating and executing fantastic events. And the garden party is also a platform for up-and-coming musical talent in Canada to showcase their passion and support for the causes.
Where is it held?
In my yard. I have one of the original “mansions on the hill” from the development of an area south of downtown Calgary called Mount Royal. The home was built in 1910, and with almost an acre of land, the yard is capable of doing some really fun things beyond volleyball and croquet!
The event is invite only – focused on family/friends/staff/clients first – and then the list grows from there every year! We always reach capacity even though invites don’t go out until about two weeks before the event. Because we ask for a charity check as admission — guiding people to dig deep — in an amount that is meaningful to them, everyone can attend feeling good about their individual contribution. I cover 100% of the costs of the venue/entertainment/decor/tenting/food/beverages/marketing, meaning that 100% of all check go to the chosen charities.
Is it in support of the same charity every year?
In the past, no. The events have supported a wide range of causes — from Boomer’s Legacy, to Right to Play, to blindness causes — but in the past few years we have evolved to a focus on the many causes that fall under the umbrella of adolescent mental health. And we are likely to stay with that for years to come.