General News

Big Love Benefit Online Silent Auction is ON and Hot New Contests are LIVE!

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The highly anticipated YANA Big Love Benefit fundraiser has officially commenced, with the Online Silent Auction open NOW!

Join the fun by purchasing a Livestream Ticket. That ticket gives you access links to:

  • The massive online silent auction
  • The livestream of the full gala event on February 24th!

That’s right; one ticket gives you virtual access to Comox Valley’s biggest charity night of the year and the spectacular online auction! Get ready to browse and bid on over 300 items and packages valued at an impressive $80,000! From lavish luxury packages to stunning local artwork, charming home and garden essentials to delicious restaurant gift certificates, there’s truly something for everyone!


There is also a new twist at this year’s Big Love Benefit for Livestream ticketholders ONLY! Join or host a Livestream viewing party on February 24th with at least four registered auction attendees and snap a group selfie. Post the selfie on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #YANABigLove to enter for a chance to win a Front of the Line Pass to purchase up to eight tickets for the 2024 in-person gala event!

And that’s not all! Every registered auction participant who places a bid from now until February 24th is entered in the “Bidders’ Bonus” contest. The winner will receive a breathtaking 30-minute flightseeing or charter flight from BC Air for up to three people. Experience the beauty of Vancouver Island like never before!

Secure your tickets now by making a donation of any amount at!

YANA Big Love Gala sells out in seconds; livestream option available

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record – Jan. 28, 2023

YANA is excited to host the upcoming Big Love Benefit Gala, to be held on Friday, Feb. 24 at the Florence Filberg Centre.

This community event will bring together supporters of YANA families, in person and online, to celebrate and show their support.

This year’s gala promises to be a night of entertainment, great food, and an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the local families YANA supports. The event will be livestreamed for those who missed the ticket sales or wish to attend virtually. Tickets went on sale on Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. and were sold out almost immediately, prompting questions from prospective ticket buyers as to whether there was a glitch in the system.

“We started getting messages right away,” said YANA executive director, Kelly Barnie. “Our YANA website crashed momentarily from the traffic, and a few tickets were released from carts, and purchased by others still in the cue. We posted the official notice at 10:39 a.m. that all 336 seats were sold out. It was definitely exciting!”

YANA is actively working on connecting people on the waitlist with people who have extra tickets available.

“All the adjustments we were forced to make over the last two years now have made it possible for everyone who wants to be a part of YANA’s Big Love Benefit to join the fun,” said Barnie.

The 350 attendees and volunteers at the event in person will be joined by countless more YANA supporters, as the event will be livestreamed from the Signature Venue at the Filberg Centre. Livestream tickets are by donation and include access to the massive online auction from Feb. 14-24, and virtual access to the full gala event on Feb. 24, featuring Karen McKinnon’s feature presentation, prize draws, extraordinary live auction, and more!

“Everyone who makes a donation for their livestream ticket receives a tax donation for the full amount,” said Barnie. “We have seen donations of $10 and donations of $1,000 for these tickets. Some people will be viewing alone comfy in their PJs, and some will be creating a lavish at-home gala. We love that they can make a night that suits them best.”

In addition to the in-person event, livestream and auction, people can also help the fundraising total by purchasing 50/50 and WestJet raffle tickets online.

“These are a chance to win, but a guarantee of extra support for YANA families,” said Kelly Barnie.

New this year for those attending the event virtually, there are two more exciting chances to win. Anyone hosting or attending a livestream viewing party on Feb. 24 can get entered to win “Pre-Sale Access” to purchase up to eight tickets to the 2024 in-person gala event.

To be eligible, the viewing party must include four or more people who are all registered to bid in the online auction, and at least one group selfie photo of the partygoers enjoying the livestream together must be posted on Facebook or Instagram with the #YANABigLove. Each partygoer can enter to win.

In addition, every person who registers in the online auction and places at least one bid will be entered to win a 30-minute flightseeing or charter flight from BC Air for up to three people to experience Vancouver Island like never before.

The team of staff and volunteers at YANA are looking forward to sharing the magic of this marquee event with an unlimited number of guests.

“We are so grateful to be in the incredible position that historically, our biggest ‘problem’ with the Big Love event is that it sells out too quickly.,” said Barnie. “There were always so many people who ended up being left out. The pandemic was far from fun for anyone, but the ability for more people to come together to raise funds to help Comox Valley families needing to travel to access medical care for their children and pregnant mothers is one outcome we are very grateful for.”

To purchase tickets and view event information, see


Tickets for the 2023 YANA Big Love Benefit on sale Sunday, January 15th

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Join us for the first IN-PERSON Big Love Benefit since 2020!

Our collective hopes may have been dashed before, but this is the year we will come together, in person, once again in celebration and support of YANA families!

The 2023 YANA Big Love Benefit Gala will take place on Friday, February 24th at the Florence Filberg Centre Signature Venue.

The event will be live-streamed as well for those who would like to attend virtually. Join us in person or online for a long-awaited incredible evening of philanthropy, celebration, and community spirit!

Tickets go on sale online, Sunday, January 15th at 10am sharp.

Signature Venue tickets are $125 each.
Live-Stream tickets are by tax-deductible donation.

Ticket purchase link and event info here:

Be sure to set your alarms, tickets sell out in just SECONDS!

With both in-person and virtual options, Big Love 2023 is about choice and flexibility!  Attendees will enjoy an electric evening of community connection, delicious dining and refreshments, as well as the opportunity to bid on incredible items and packages in both the online auction and live auction, hosted by the one and only, Dave Stevens.

The night will include a moving photo presentation captured by the talented Karen McKinnon offering a glimpse into the experiences of a YANA family deeply impacted by the generous support this community provides.

Your in-person or virtual Big Love Benefit ticket gives you exclusive access to both the FULL silent auction running from February 14th to 24th and the exciting LIVE auction during the Big Love event on Friday, February 24th.

Show your support by bidding on the amazing items donated by generous individuals and businesses from around the Comox Valley and beyond. There are sure to be some hot-ticket items up for bid including gift certificates, experiences, local pottery and artwork, collectibles, and much, much more!

Join the community of supporters rallying behind YANA families! Every ticket purchased, every item auctioned, every dollar donated makes a difference.

2022 Christmas Crackers are SOLD OUT!

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As of 10:30am Thursday, December 15, 2022, Crackers are SOLD OUT at ALL locations! 

Thank you to our 2022 Christmas Crackers sponsor, Somers Private Wealth of RBC Dominion Securities whose generosity allowed 100% of every sale to be directed to accommodation and travel funding support for YANA families, and to prize donors Mark the Gold Guy and Tim from Simply Timeless for their neverending sparkly support! Huge gratitude as well to all volunteers, retail location staff, and Cracker purchasers in the Comox Valley and beyond for making this fundraiser a huge success again this year!

Reminder to our gift certificate and grand prize winners to contact the YANA office at or 250-871-0343 to make arrangements to pick up your prize. We can’t wait to meet and congratulate you!

One door closed, but many doors to support YANA are still open!

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, November 24, 2022


Click HERE for information on where to purchase YANA Christmas Crackers.


The holiday season is looking bright for YANA families despite some disappointing news they received in late October. Although all systems were “Go” in July for the Driftwood Mall to restart their Christmas Trees for YANA fundraiser that they had been hosting to raise funds for YANA for nearly 20 years, in October, BentalGreenOak let YANA know via their Driftwood Mall local administration that they would not be running the fundraiser moving forward.

“The mall’s fundraiser for YANA has been a tradition of the season for so long, and it typically raised about $10,000 for YANA families each year, so it was definitely tough news to receive. We will be helping with about 400 medical trips this year, so we’re just super grateful that there are so many other ways for people to continue supporting YANA families over the holidays”, said YANA Executive Director, Kelly Barnie.

The team at YANA is excited that so many doors are open to unique ways the Comox Valley can come together and spread generosity in the spirit of giving this holiday season.

YANA Christmas Crackers: Sales of the time-honoured YANA Christmas Crackers are already off to a fantastic start. Five thousand crackers have been lovingly handcrafted by volunteers and filled with the usual delights. Fifty crackers have special prizes, including one with a breathtaking diamond ring valued at over $5600.00. “The cracker prizes are awesome this year”, said Barnie. “There are $1000 in Quality Foods grocery gift cards alone, so I think there are going to be some very excited cracker snappers this year!” Crackers are $5.00 each and are available for cash purchase while supplies last at Edible Island Whole Foods Market, Quality Foods and Tin Town Cafe in Courtenay, John’s Your Independent Grocer, Quality Foods and the Comox Community Centre in Comox, and at Seeds Food Market in Cumberland.

Crown isle Holiday Resort Walk & Gingerbread Village Charity Auction: Along with the Comox Valley Transition Society and MARS Wildlife Rescue, YANA will be a shared recipient of the proceeds from the spectacular Holiday Resort Walk and Gingerbread Village & Teddy Bear Basket Charity Auction at Crown Isle & Golf Community this year. The Holiday Resort Walk starts December 2, and continues on December 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16-21. Hours are 5:00 – 8:00pm each night. Admission to the Holiday Resort Walk is by cash donation or tap to donate.

Donate Late-model Used iPads: Over the years, My Tech Guys had refurbished and passed on several donated iPads to YANA to be used for payment processing at their fundraising events. The iOS systems now required for Square and other apps are higher than the older iPads can handle, so YANA is hoping some newer old iPads might come their way over the holiday season. “We know we need two or three iPads that have iOS 14 or higher so that they can run at least Version 5 of the Square App. If anyone finds themselves with a brand new iPad under the tree this year, we’d sure love it if they’d consider donating their older model to YANA,” said Barnie.

Charitable Donations/Monthly Donation: “Charitable donations made near the end of the tax year and donations in lieu of gifts are always a big portion of the funds we receive each year to help the children and families we serve,” explains Barnie. “There are so many incredible local charities in the Comox Valley, and the support we receive this time of year really makes a huge difference for the work we’re able to do. I truly wish every donor would be able to hear the relief in the voices of the parents we help. It may seem like it’s just a number on a year-end tax receipt but how a family who receives YANA support feels knowing their community has made the support possible is something more special than I could possibly explain.” Monthly donations help YANA plan ahead and ensure that they have sustainable funding throughout the year. YANA uses the online platform where you can set up a one-time or recurring monthly donation.

So many of the Comox Valley residents are struggling in the face of inflation and pandemic recovery, but with your help, YANA plans to continue to lift some of that strain on the local families needing to leave the community for medical support. Together, we can make our community a little brighter this year.

Follow these links to:

YANA Christmas Crackers on Sale November 12th

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For almost twenty years, YANA has welcomed the holiday season by making and selling Christmas Crackers in support of local children and families.

5,000 crackers have been lovingly handcrafted by volunteers and filled with the usual delights. 50 crackers have special prizes, including one with an extra special grand prize- A breathtaking diamond ring valued at over $5,600!

For more info on retail locations, bulk purchases and how you can help craft Christmas Crackers for 2023, see or call the YANA office at 250-871-0343.



YANA Ride 2022 a Massive Fundraising Success for Local Charity

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Riders, donors, sponsors, volunteers, YANA friends and supporters, what an honour and privilege it was to reunite together again for YANA families. This year was all about transitioning gracefully and coming back stronger than ever, and what a comeback it was!

Together, we raised $86,500 to help Comox Valley families with children or pregnant moms who need medical care away from home. Absolutely amazing!! 

Thank you to every single person that rode, fundraised, made a contribution and had a hand in making the 2022 Comox Bike Co YANA Ride a massive success.

Check out this recap of the 2022 event, mark your calendars and start making plans for your YANA Ride in August 2023. We can’t wait to join together again at the Party in the Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023!

YANA Ride 2022 50/50 Winner and a Heart-Warming Story to Go Along With It!

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There is no shortage of heart-filling stories about the love surrounding YANA families through the YANA Ride fundraising, but this one is a doozy!

Meet Sherri Moran.

Sherri is this year‘s Comox Bike Company YANA Ride 50-50 winner!! But far more importantly, Sherri is a very proud grandma to Onyx Cederlof. You may remember Onyx and his parents Meaghan and Josh from their beautiful post around the time of the YANA Ride last year.

With gratitude forever in her heart for how YANA supported her baby grandson and his parents while Onyx was in the Nanaimo NICU for almost a month, Sherri made a generous donation towards the 2022 YANA Ride. When she realized she wouldn’t be able to make it to the Party in the Park on Sunday as she had planned, she decided to help the fundraising efforts out a bit more by purchasing 50/50 tickets as well…..and wait until you hear how else Sherri has decided to help!

Upon receiving the phone call that she was this year’s 50/50 winner and hearing that she would be receiving a $2607.50 prize, only a few seconds of shock and excitement passed before Sherri let Kelly from YANA know what her plans were for the money, and exactly why she’d made that decision. Sherri is donating $1607.50 back to YANA, and the $1000.00 she’s receiving is going into education savings for little Onyx. Through misty eyes and cracking voices on both ends of the phone call, Sherri explained how she was honoured to give back to the organization that had helped her family when they needed it most, and that contributing to Onyx’s bright future ahead seemed like the perfect way to spend her windfall.

Thank you for your incredible support Sherri and for sharing this beautiful story of the circle of love and generosity surrounding YANA and the families we serve!

McIntoshes paying it back at this year’s YANA Ride, after paying it forward in 2021

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, August 11th 2022.

By Lina Konovalov

Last week, Beckett Williamson was introduced as one of the youngest riders ever for the Comox Bike Co YANA Ride annual fundraiser. “One of the youngest” being the operative term.

Meet Caelan McIntosh.

Caelan is a YANA baby, whose first YANA Ride came before he was even born!

Knowing in advance that their baby would need to be delivered at BC Children’s Hospital, Cam and Melissa McIntosh started Team Broken, Battered and Brews-ed for last year’s YANA Ride to raise money in hopes of “paying it forward” for their intended Vancouver trip leading up to Mel’s estimated due date of Sept. 19, 2021. And raise money they did! Their team (with mama Mel still carrying wee Caelan) was YANA’s second-place fundraising team last year, raising nearly $7,000. Cam was the top individual fundraising rider for the 2021 event raising $4,304.13 for YANA.

Baby Caelan made his arrival on August 25, 2021, at BCCH, and this year, Team Recovering Brews-ers is riding for YANA again, and raising funds to celebrate Caelan’s first birthday as a way of saying thank you for the help YANA provided.

From now until Aug. 21, bikers across the Comox Valley and beyond will be riding in the 2022 Comox Bike Co. YANA Ride in support of YANA and the local families this organization helps.

YANA, or You Are Not Alone, is a local registered charity that provides travel and accommodation assistance to families who need to access medical care for a child or pregnant mother somewhere outside the Valley.

Medical trips can be extremely costly, with some trips costing several thousand dollars. No matter the cost, YANA is there to help every step of the way. These trips are life-changing for the families in need, and they occur in huge part due to the efforts of the incredible YANA riders gathering pledges and the donors and sponsors supporting them.

Last year YANA was able to provide $265,000 in travel funding and accommodation support. The more pledges that are raised throughout the ride, the more families YANA can say yes to at times when they need it most.

Registration is ongoing. The Comox Bike Co YANA Ride allows you to chart your own course, riding when, where and how you like. On Sunday, Aug. 21, all riders, sponsors and YANA supporters throughout the community are invited to gather at Comox Marina Park between 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for the annual Party in the Park celebration to congratulate everyone’s great achievements.

For more information, registration, or to pledge a rider or team (such as Team Recovering Brews-ers) click on the links above!

Beckett’s family grateful YANA has been there for the long haul

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, August 4th 2022.

By Andrea Rose

Beckett Williamson loves birds, people, strumming his ukulele, and his brand-new scooter. At only 2 years old, he might just be one of the youngest riders yet for the Comox Bike Co YANA Ride annual fundraiser, and he is busy scooting the streets in support of the organization that has helped his family over the last 2 years.

Sally and Thom and big brother Baden welcomed Beckett into the world a few weeks early and many miles from home in June of 2020. 6 weeks before his due date, during a stress test, in-utero concerns indicated that Beckett would need to be born earlier than planned. The Comox Valley Hospital isn’t set up to support infants born before 37 weeks, and the family received the news that they would be delivering their baby in Nanaimo. Before they left, they were introduced to YANA (You Are Not Alone), who would help them along the difficult journey they were about to embark on.

“Basically from when we first got to the hospital here…It was almost instantly that we were presented with an envelope with information from YANA and $200 to travel down to where we needed to go, which ended up being Nanaimo,” explained Sally, who emphasized just how much the support meant to them. They’d known about YANA through past fundraising events, but hadn’t been the recipients of their support before, and were moved by what it felt like to be on the receiving end of such a gift.

The couple travelled to Nanaimo that same day, and on the evening of June 20th Beckett was born at the Nanaimo Regional Hospital, 6 weeks before his due date. He had some breathing difficulties that required intubation, which is not uncommon for many preterm infants, but as the hours and days passed there were growing concerns beyond what was usual for a preemie baby. As symptoms of another underlying condition started to present themselves, it became clear that they wouldn’t be returning home as soon as they had hoped.

Within a couple of days of his birth, Beckett and Sally were sent to Victoria for further testing and a higher level of care. The family reached out to connect with YANA and immediately felt carried and supported by the organization, who arranged for a suite near the hospital where the family could all be together, big brother and grandparents included.

“It was paid for, and we didn’t even have to worry,” says Sally. “It was amazing, because being told when we got to Victoria that there was something else wrong with Beckett and it wasn’t just preemie, obviously we weren’t in a state of mind to really be thinking about anything. We were in our darkest place ever for the 6 weeks in the NICU, and we didn’t have to worry about a place to stay.”

A few weeks after being in Victoria a room opened up at Jeneece Place, where Sally and Thom could be even closer to the hospital as they anxiously waited for answers.

It was almost a month of investigation and testing before they discovered that Beckett had a rare genetic disorder, Prader-Willi syndrome, which affects about 1 in 15,000-20,000 live births, and explained the difficulties Beckett was having with breathing, eating, and thriving as a newborn. The family was finally able to return home after 6 weeks of being away, grateful for YANA’s support throughout their time away, but knowing that their journey had only just begun.

Prader-Willi syndrome impacts growth and development in a number of different ways. The low muscle tone associated with the condition meant that Beckett would be fed via NG tube for the first 9 months, as well as having delays with walking and talking. The genetic disorder also impacts his growth hormone production, as well as sleep apnea, low metabolism, and seizures.

So far there is no cure for Prader-Willi, and there will be many hurdles for Beckett and his family in the years to come. Over the last 2 years, Beckett has bravely undergone a number of surgeries and the family has made multiple trips to Victoria for various specialist appointments, and YANA has been able to provide them with the assurance of support the entire way.

YANA’s funding and accommodation programs are available to all Comox Valley families who have to travel outside of the community for the medical care of a pregnant mother, or a child under 19. There is no lifetime maximum, and no limit to the number of trips made or the amount of time away, allowing families like the Williamson’s to know that every step of the way, no matter what comes their way, YANA would be there to help.

“The support of not having to worry about where we’re going to stay. The stress, and the booking, and the finance – we have to take time off to take him to appointments. It’s such a great thing to know there’s that support for us and our family.” Sally explains, pointing out what an important service this organization provides, especially to families who are welcoming preterm infants that can’t be born in the Comox Valley. “It’s instant. You go in, and you’re like – oh my God I have to travel to have this baby. Here is an organization that can help you travel.”

And the Williamson’s can hardly wait to give back and provide the support that comes full-circle thanks to the generosity of this community. This is the first year the family has fundraised and participated in the YANA Ride, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

“He (Beckett) got a scooter for his birthday and loves it…and then we heard about the YANA Ride, and we were like, ‘yes’, it was the perfect time, because he just loves to scoot, and to be able to help other families,” says Sally. “He’s going to scoot around the block, nothing far because he can’t go very far…and then we’re going to have a barbeque at our place after with friends as well.”

The outpouring of support for Team Beckett has already been enormous, as friends and family have rallied behind their efforts to give back to YANA, as well as big brother Baden, who will also be riding alongside his little brother to help families just like theirs.

“It’s such a community.” Sally shares. “It really is just like, this is our community, let’s take care of our community, let’s take care of each other. We are proud to live in the Comox Valley and proud to support.”

Anyone, anywhere, can ride and raise funds for YANA for the 2022 Comox Bike Co YANA Ride. Between August 1-21st, individuals and families across the community and beyond are invited to register, join a team, raise pledges, and chart their own course, ending off at the Comox Marina finish line on Sunday, August 21st for a massive community Party in the Park.

All money raised through the Comox Bike Co YANA Ride goes towards helping families like Beckett’s, and the countless others who benefit from YANA’s support each year. To register, make a pledge to little Beckett or to another rider, buy 50/50 or raffle tickets and participate in the silent auction, visit