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40 Winks helps Red Roof Retreat 0

By Penny Coles, Niagara Advance

At the Shaw Club Hotel Friday, Feb. 10, Ryan Murray of Niagara's Finest Inns gives Steffanie Bjorgan a $7,000 cheque for Red Roof Retreat respite care and day programs.

At the Shaw Club Hotel Friday, Feb. 10, Ryan Murray of Niagara's Finest Inns gives Steffanie Bjorgan a $7,000 cheque for Red Roof Retreat respite care and day programs.

As the executive director of Red Roof Retreat, Steffanie Bjorgan was looking forward to February's 40 Winks fundraiser for the cash infusion to help offset operating costs.

But as a mother of a young adult with special needs, she was just as eagerly anticipating a night out with a group of moms in the same position.

It was November when Niagara's Finest Inns began taking reservations for their fourth annual 40 Winks charity event, offering guests a chance to spend a night at unbelievably low prices at all four of their hotels.

When the Monday morning booking began, it took about 20 minutes to sell out the 31 rooms at the Harbour House Hotel, says general manager Ryan Murray.

The Charles Inn and Shaw Club sold out within about another 10 minutes, and 48 hours later, the Colonel Butler Best Western was also full.

The event was held Thursday, Feb. 2, with some guests staying an extra night. Breakfast was an added option, and all money-not just profits, but 100 per cent of the proceeds from that night and Friday's breakfast-was donated to Red Roof Retreat, a total of $7,000.

Although it has been a successful fundraiser from the beginning, this was the first time all four hotels were sold out.

"More and more people are hearing about it," said Murray.

"We have many people from previous years asking about it -they can't wait to come back. It's great value and it works well for everybody. We get a ton of repeat business."

Although this was the fourth 40 Winks event, it has been almost a decade since Murray and Niagara's Finest began organizing fundraisers for Red Roof.

"We believe Steffanie is doing something incredibly important," says Murray, of the work of Red Roof for special needs children, young adults and their families.

"The idea of the day programs is great, but really the idea of respite care is so important. Parenting in the best of situations is incredibly difficult, so for families with special needs kids to have a break is amazing."

Bjorgan says she hears from people each fall who are just waiting to book their overnight stay, including the group of moms she has met through Red Roof who look forward to the event and get together each year.

"It really helps us to know this is coming, financially," she says.

"It gives us some security to know we have this continuing support. And this group of moms and I have been doing this for years. It's a great night out, an opportunity for us to have some laughs. It's good fun."

Red Roof Retreat provides quality day programs and weekend respite services to children, youth and young adults with special needs and their families.


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