Lotoya Davids
News Reporter

Humber’s postgraduate Event Management students brought a different type of electric feel to the Hard Rock Cafe with their Meeting of the Minds event last Friday.

Neurons sparked during the trivia-based fundraising event. The event’s purple color scheme, themed drink called the ‘brain drain’, memory games, and trivia questions were combined to support Alzheimer’s research at Toronto’s Baycrest Foundation.

Host Riley Little entertained a packed house with rounds of trivia questions combined with his casual humor. Trivia teams, sectioned by tables, tried to claim prizes by the end of the night. Throughout the night patrons were encouraged to participate in the silent bid for a chance to win prizes sponsored by various companies including Savor Living. Main sponsors included RE/MAX, Digital Dream, and Music in Motion.

According to one of the event organizers, Cigdem Teke, the students of the one year postgraduate program were divided into four teams and asked to pitch two event ideas at the beginning of the school year. After developing the concept for a Meeting of the Minds event in November, the team of 10 students began planning the following month, dividing into subcommittees with a focus on partnerships, venue, production, finance, or marketing.

“We chose to support the Baycrest Foundation due to the fact that it is a registered charitable organization that provides funding to Baycrest Health Sciences,” said co-organizer Justyna  Fabisiewicz.

“Baycrest is an academic health sciences centre, which places special emphasis on brain health and aging. Its dedicated staff conduct research on Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, educate the public, and provide care to those who are affected by these diseases.”  Fabisiewicz said.

The purple colour scheme for the evening reflected the signature colour for the awareness campaign for Alzheimer’s.

In-between rounds of trivia games was a speech by Dr. Rosanne Aleong, manager of Research, Innovation and Translation at Baycrest, who spoke on brain diseases and advice on how to keep the brain healthy. Aleong encouraged a healthy diet and exercising the brain with challenging games such as crossword puzzles, and keeping the brain active by even simply reading newspapers.

Participant Melissa Cabral gave a moving speech about her relative’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Afterwards, she commented on the value of a trivia night for an event like this.

“Trivia night was inspired as a method to remind individuals to keep their minds engaged,” Cabral said. “Mind games are known to help keep the mind healthy and prevent the progression of memory loss. The production subcommittee worked very hard to pull trivia questions for various trivia games.”

The questions ranged in topics from pop-culture, to Canadian historic events, to sports history, but the team ensured that questions on brain health and the Baycrest Foundation were included to remind everyone of the event’s main focus.

If patrons wanted a break from trivia questions they had the option to challenge their brain with smaller activities installed around the event space. They could test their memory skills with the memory card game, relax with word search puzzles, or challenge their senses in a game of ‘Name that spice’.

The event also provided a ‘Memory wall’ which allowed patrons to write a small note of a fond memory and display it on a wall at the event’s entrance.

“When planning the event, we thought about how we could raise funds and generate awareness about the diseases, while creating an entertaining evening for attendees. We were aware of the popularity of pub trivia nights and their potential to educate attendees in a unique way, so we decided that we would host this type of event.” Fabisiewicz says.

At the end of the evening patrons were awarded prizes for each game and for the silent bid.

“I think  it’s really cool that a lot of people came out, there was a lot of participation, and I thought the games were really cool,” said an attendee who gave only the first name Taur. “It was a really lovely evening I thought the speakers were really amazing. The second speaker [Melissa] had a very impactful story”.

Another guest said, “I had a really good time playing the trivia games. I found that the questions were really challenging, and still entertaining enough that they facilitated good team work.”

The student organizers were also happy.

“We surpassed our revenue target, raising more than $7,700 for the Baycrest Foundation and the Humber Event Management Scholarship Fund. In addition, despite the poor weather, over 160 people attended the Meeting of the Minds,” Fabisiewicz said.

The postgraduate Event Management program also proved successful in allowing students to apply their knowledge from the classroom to ‘real world’ experience, she added.

“The applied learning aspect of the postgraduate Event Management program is an invaluable component of the curriculum. I’m sure that I do not only speak for myself when I say that I’ve honed a variety of skills that I will carry with me into my professional career,” said Fabisiewicz.

“The Event Management program taught me that there are more to events than what you see,” said Cabral. “Each and every event is unique and no matter how much you plan there are always going to be changes throughout. The training gained throughout the program teaches one to be quick on your feet while maintaining organized and professional.”