In the mid-90’s Penticton restaurant owner Nikos Theodosakis dreamed of taking refined dining to new heights – 10,000 feet to be exact.
His vision of the mountain-top experience included a maitre d’ welcoming guests upon their arrival by helicopter, live, classical music and a formal, sit-down, multi-course meal with (of course) select local wine pairings.
Unfortunately, due to the logistics, providing this kind of opportunity for customers on an ongoing basis was not practical.
Unwilling to give up, Theodosakis came up with an alternative plan to do the same trip once a year, and help out a good cause at the same time.
“I went to Judy Sentes (executive director of the OSNS Child Development at the time) and said, ‘What if we could somehow take people up and give them this afternoon?’”
“That evolved into this thing we call Theo’s@10,000 Feet,” said Theodosakis.
“The idea is that four guests get to spend an afternoon on top of the mountain enjoying the Okanagan, enjoying some food, enjoying each other, the wine and the proceeds go to the OSNS.
“People love the idea. It is the trip of a lifetime, to be pampered on the top of a mountain by your own chef, by the musicians, by the host.
“It’s all about enjoying the afternoon.”
The draw take place Friday, Sept. 13 at Theo’s Main Street location.
Tickets will be on sale up until the 8 p.m. draw.
Winners are picked up by limousine and taken to Eclipse Helicopters at Penticton Regional Airport where they are whisked away to the mountain which offers views of three local lakes.
“There, they have a formal table with chairs, table cloth, sometimes a rug, candelabras and live music nearby,” said Theodosakis.
“It’s just like here in the dining room except the dining room has been replaced by a mountain top.
“It’s a beautiful chance to relax, something that showcases the Okanagan.
“To have five, six or seven courses, a selection of local wines and there is no rush because we don’t have to have the table for anyone else.”
Eclipse Helicopters owner and chief pilot Eric Stoof has long been on board as well.
He flies not only the people to the site but all the other components as well.
His reason for participating was more of a personal nature.
“My youngest son was a client of OSNS and this was my payback,” said Stoof.
“It wasn’t a major thing for my son but it was there and it could be done. I think what they do there (OSNS) is totally awesome.”
Executive director Manisha Willms of the centre stressed fundraising is crucial to the facility’s daily operations.
“Monies we get from the government fall significantly short of what our expenses are and as more children are identified with developmental difficulties our numbers grow but unfortunately, our core funding has not grown with it,” she said.
“We rely heavily on people’s generosity and Theo’s@10,000 is one of those examples.”
She also expressed her gratitude to the many sponsors who make this fundraiser and the others like the telethon, Evergreen Ball and Harley Davidson motorcycle raffle possible.
This year’s telethon is scheduled for late October, followed by the Evergreen Ball.