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Ryan Jespersen Show raises $6,000 for Mazankowski ahead of 630 CHED Heart Pledge Day

Ryan Jespersen speaks with chef Brad Smoliak as the two auction off a dinner package to raise money for the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute ahead of 630 CHED Heart Pledge Day. Kirby Bourne/630 CHED

Heart Pledge Day is fast approaching and 630 CHED host Ryan Jespersen has gotten a head start on the fundraising, bringing in $6,000 during Friday’s show.

Heart Pledge Day is an annual fundraiser and live broadcast hosted by 630 CHED at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute at the University of Alberta Hospital.

Each year, patients, doctors and family members share amazing stories about the care they received at the Maz.

READ MORE: 630 CHED Heart Pledge Day raises $355K for life-saving care in Edmonton

This year, Jespersen hosted an auction ahead of the live broadcast in an effort to get the fundraising ball rolling.

Dave Kaminski was the winning bidder, looking to thank the facility that helped him nearly a decade ago.

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“I owe my life to the Maz as I suffered a heart attack nine years ago,” he told 630 CHED. “This was a great opportunity to pay it back and forward.”

LISTEN BELOW: The Ryan Jespersen Show auctions off a 12-person meal in support of 630 CHED Heart Pledge Day

The package featured a multi-course meal for 12 prepared by Brad Smoliak, the chef behind Edmonton hot spot Kitchen, and wine pairings by Juanita Roos.

READ MORE: 630 CHED Heart Pledge Day to support lifesaving care in Edmonton

The entire event is to take place at Kitchen and will be hosted by Jespersen.

“I’m thrilled to see such strong support for such a great cause,” Jespersen said. “It’s great to give Heart Pledge Day a solid head start, heading into our live broadcast on Feb. 27!”

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Smoliak is not only participating as someone who loves to support Edmonton, he has had his own experience with the Maz.

Smoliak was in late-stage heart failure when he found out he wasn’t viable for a heart transplant because his organs had suffered too much damage due to a congenital heart defect.

READ MORE: Popular Alberta chef’s heart makes him a medical curiosity

In January 2019, he had a Ventricular Assist Device installed at the Maz.

The goal of the VAD is to not only keep Smoliak alive, but to give his organs a fighting chance to become healthy enough to one day support a transplanted heart.

Click to play video 'Popular Edmonton chef’s heart makes him a medical curiosity' Popular Edmonton chef’s heart makes him a medical curiosity
Popular Edmonton chef’s heart makes him a medical curiosity – Aug 1, 2019

“Chef Brad’s connection to the Maz, our sommelier Juanita’s connection to the Maz, and our winning bidder David’s connection to The Maz is proof of the reach — and important role — the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute has in our province and across Western Canada,” Jespersen said.

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Heart Pledge Day will broadcast live from the Maz on Feb. 27 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Funds raised this year will go to new diagnostic equipment, including Echocardiogram machines, to continue to provide the highest standard of care to patients at the Mazankowski.