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50 years of EUPHORIA! Medical student‑run event marks milestone

Posted by Kenneth Conrad on February 25, 2019 in News
Class of 2019 _Euphoria2
Class of 2019 _Euphoria2

 

Editor's Note: After this story was published, the DMSS retallied funds raised from last EUPHORIA! 2019 which amounted to a grand total of a record-breaking $50,067.95 - an especially exciting number for the 50th anniversary of the performance.  

Lights, camera, action!  

Every year since 1969, Dalhousie Medical School students have taken a break from their studies to put on a variety show and entertain sold-out crowds.

The Saturday, February 23 performance of EUPHORIA! at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium marked the 50th anniversary of one of the longest-running events of its kind in North America.

Not only does the show provide an entertaining break from the classroom and clinic, but there’s some competition involved, too. All four classes each perform for 30 minutes, with one class being crowned the winner. But the event’s reason d’être is a noble one: to support Maritime charities.

This year, the event’s organizers set an ambitious goal of fundraising more money than any other EUPHORIA! event in the past. The funds are to be divided between two charities. Located in Stratford, P.E.I., Camp Gencheff is a recreational camp for children, adolescents and adults with special needs; Hestia House is a Saint John, N.B. shelter for abused women and their children.

"A simple idea"

EUPHORIA! started out with a simple idea: reaching out to help care for our communities,” said Dr. Ron Stewart, Professor Emeritus and President of the Dalhousie Medical Students’ Society (DMSS) in 1969. “That’s been the long-running theme through the event all these years.”

Still, as Dr. Stewart tells it, the first EUPHORIA! didn’t seem like it would be blessed with longevity.

Just three weeks before the event was due to christen the brand-new McInnes Room of the Student Union Building, only 23 tickets had been sold (although all 600 seats were filled on the night of the performance). The final skit of the evening saw a cast member fall off the stage into an orchestra pit, destroying a double bass. Nearly all of the show’s proceeds went toward replacing the instrument.

All hope was not lost, however: the spirit of generosity inherent in EUPHORIA! soon revealed itself, with faculty members pitching in to make up the lost funds so that the organizing committee was able to fulfill its mission of supporting local foster children.

The event found its footing after that rocky start, and over the ensuing half-century, it’s estimated that the annual performances have raised $800,000 for Maritime charities.

Current DMSS president Michael Mackley says students’ enthusiasm has remained strong to this day. “EUPHORIA! is one of the biggest and highly anticipated events on our medical students’ calendar. Ninety per cent of students across all four classes participate – some perform on stage and others are behind-the-scenes, building sets and soliciting donations or just cheering classmates on. Students really look forward to it every year.”

Supporting in silence

Aside from ticket sales, a major component of the first EUPHORIA!’s fundraising efforts was an auction held over two lunch-hours in the Tupper Medical Building. Items and services donated for the cause ranged from an antique microscope, to a sailing trip, to suturing lessons. Fourth-year medical student Mike Banks served as the auctioneer.

In that same spirit, a silent auction was held on the evening of EUPHORIA!’s 50th anniversary, with donated items such as local artwork and (again) suturing lessons available to the highest bidder.

Leaving a legacy

Dr. Stewart believes that the success of EUPHORIA! will continue for many years to come.  “It’s woven into the fabric of Dalhousie Medicine and the lives of its graduates, perhaps because it taps into the competitive genes of medical students. I have no doubt that many future generations of Dalhousie medical students will lend their talents to the show and that it will continue to support many worthwhile community causes – all in the name of having some fun and short-term relief from the demands of medical education.”

The final figures

At the end of the evening, the Class of 2020 were declared the overall winners (as voted on by a judging panel of Dr. Stewart; Dr. Sarah Ramer, associate professor, Division of Cardiology; Dr. Jillian Coolen, associate professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Dr. Volodko Bakowsky, Division head / chief, Division of Rheumatology; and Dr. Tim Holland, president, Doctors Nova Scotia).  

Total funds raised were a whopping $37,630.31 - a record high for the production throughout it's 50 yers on stage. All proceeds will be split evenly between Camp Gencheff and Hestia House.