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Searching for La Dolci Vita? Check out the trips of the Gold Medal Plates!
by Laura Goldstein
Actor Marcello Mastroianni had to wander the sordid streets of Rome looking for the illusive meaning of life in Fellini’s 1960’s film, La Doce Vita. Today, our love of food, wine, celebrity and travel still impassions us to discover The Sweet Life - exemplified in all of its many connotations in Gold Medal Plates.
The brainchild of Toronto husband and wife team, Stephen Leckie and Karen Blair, they experienced their eureka moment in 2003, while watching the announcement on CTV that Vancouver had been awarded the 2010 Winter Olympic Games: Why not pair up Canada’s crème de la crème in sports, food and wine to create the ultimate fund-raising event?
“ We recognized how athletes and chefs had a lot in common – always pushing their own boundaries,” explains GMP co-founder and CEO, Leckie. “The foodie movement was exploding all around us with the popularity of food channels, celebrity chefs and reality shows. When we started Gold Medal Plates we realized we also needed exotic destination trips actually led by Olympic athletes and Canadian musicians, to further entice public support – (7 Auction trips this year with over 500 participants.) The Canadian Olympic Foundation’s, ‘Own the Podium’ became our beneficiary; the Canadian Culinary Championships our nation-wide competition and 10 years later we’ve raised over 7.2 million dollars!”
“I get to see the world by the seat of my pants,” laughs three-time Olympic Match Sprint Cycling Champion, Curt Harnett reminiscing not about competition, but his adventures at the GMP Auction Trip, Under the Tuscan Sun, in which he has participated for three years. “Although cycling isn’t mandatory, there are many ‘Type A’ personalities on this trip who actually trained for a year either running, spinning or riding, building up their stamina. We even had a woman who had struggled through bouts of cancer treatment and went on this cycling trip just to challenge herself. But I love that they can relinquish some of that control and enjoy those postcard moments too,” confides Harnett.
“Marni, (Vancouver’s own Marni McBean, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Rowing) organizes everybody according to cycling abilities: cappucchino, macchiato, expresso and DOUBLE expresso for the real diehards and we’d go off exploring wineries and the winding country roads of Chianti,” says Harnett.
Gearing up for Tuscany again this year, McBean is joined by Olympic Gold Medal Cross-Country Ski Champion, Chandra Crawford and Hockey legend, Russ Courtnall.
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