The eleventh annual non-profit Vehicles & Violins gala — run by the Calgary Motor Dealers Association (CMDA) and held last night — will benefit the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the ALS Society of Alberta.

This year’s chosen charities will receive 100 per cent of the gala’s proceeds to split equally. Jim Gillespie, executive manager for the CMDA, says the gala serves as a preview to the Calgary International Car & Truck Show, which opens up one day later to the general public.

“Those two charities basically run the gala,” says Gillespie, adding the organizations arrange a silent auction, live auction, any volunteers and sponsorship.

“It raises significant funds for us,” explains Karen Caughey ALS Society of Alberta’s executive director. “To get this kind of support is absolutely amazing.”

Caughey says the lack of knowledge about ALS and that her organization is the only one in Alberta, leads her to believe “the awareness is one of the bigger pieces for us.”

Yesterday’s attendees got the first peek at the numerous shiny new cars while enjoying music from Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra members, international cuisine and fine wines. They also bid on items such as trips to Mexico and France or Flames and Hitmen tickets in a live and silent auction.

“Quite honestly we’re all about charities,” Gillespie says, adding the auto show, CMDA and Vehicles & Violins are all non-profit. The CMDA supports various needy organizations year-round and in about a month will be accepting applications for next year’s potential Vehicles & Violins charities.

The Prostate Cancer Centre, a previous Vehicles & Violins chosen charity, used its portion of the gala’s raised funds to create the Man Van.