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Cambridge family supports War Amps with backyard ‘Bullafest’

For the last 19 years, the Bulla family has hosted a summer party and concert at their home called ‘Bullafest’ to raise funds for The War Amps Child Amputee Program (CHAMP)
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Left to right: The Bulla family, Nathan, Paul, Colleen and Elise, and War Amps Public Awareness Officer, Bob Maguire.

On Sept. 28, The Bulla family, of Cambridge, made their way to The War Amps Key Tag office to hand in a cheque for $7,500.

For the last 19 years, the family has hosted a summer party and concert at their home called ‘Bullafest’ to raise funds for The War Amps Child Amputee Program (CHAMP).

“We are not government funded. Not a lot of people know that, so we really rely on donations from people like the Bulla family,” said War Amps public awareness officer, Bob Maguire.

The donation will help fund essential artificial limbs for child amputees as well as programs that will assist them in living with amputation

“It’s such a unique event and they put on a really great show! To fundraise, and support us in this way, there’s such a great sense of community, especially now, since the pandemic.”  

The annual backyard event takes place every July and has now become a popular neighbourhood festival in Preston, now known as, Bullafest.

It all began when Paul Bulla and his family just wanted to throw a summer party at their home on Fountain Street.

“It was basically for friends and neighbours, to have a barbecue, and enjoy some live music in the middle of the summer,” Bulla said.

“Early on, it was a great reason for my band to play. As time went on, more and more people performed at the festival.”

And the party just grew.

“Now we put this party on every year, a little summer festival, which is now dubbed, Bullafest. I spent a little bit of money for a sound system and professional musicians and so on, but then I realized, after a few years, hey, I am spending the money on this, let’s make something of it," Bulla said.

So, the Bulla family turned the event into a fundraiser asking people for donations when they come to the party.

“My goal has always been to make a donation in excess of what I was spending for the party, to make it feel like we were contributing. We support two great charities, the War Amps CHAMPS, and the other is St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Kitchener,” Bulla said.

“We’ve been donating to these two charities for quite a few years now. Both have been very close to us as a family.”

Over the years, the Bulla family has had anywhere from 150 to 200 people attend the live event for the afternoon to evening.

“And then COVID happened. In 2020, so we did a Bullafest COVID-19 edition. We did a live stream on Zoom and all musicians participated and pre-recorded their music,” Bulla said.

“I had about nine participants perform, and I was live hosting the event. Because we broadcasted this to a larger group of people, we raised $14,000, which was well above what we had ever raised before.”

Last year, the Bulla family put on the ‘vaccine edition’ of Bullafest.

“We always have these little logos each year and sell merchandise, such as t-shirts, all for the fundraising effort,” Bulla said.

“Last year, it was partly pre-recorded, and we broadcasted on a Bullafest YouTube channel that my son set up."

This year, Bulla was thrilled to have the event back and in-person.

“We were full-bore live again. We had over 170 people at our home. But we also streamed it live and had another 700 views in total,” Bulla said.

“Last year, we made a little more than the year before, and again this year, we made even more than last, raising a total, $15,000. We were so happy to be able to present to a cheque to CHAMPS last week.”

For the Bulla's, Bullafest has become a family affair.

“Both my adult kids participate. My son is a drummer and his band plays. He was integral in the live streaming aspect of it. And my daughter was affiliated with CHAMPS when she was a kid. So, that’s our connection,” Bulla said.  

“Over the years, we’ve raised quite a bit.”

The Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program offers comprehensive services to child amputees and their families, including financial assistance. CHAMP serves children in Canada who are born missing a limb or have lost a limb due to an accident or medical causes.

“Donations like this will go to help amputees in Cambridge and all across Ontario to help with prosthetics which can be so expensive,” Maguire said.

“Donations can help level the playing field for amputees to help them live their best life, whether it’s through a hockey prosthetic in the winter, or a swimming one in the summer. It allows kids to be kids.”

Plans are in the works for next year which will celebrate 20 years of Bullafest.

“It become our thing that we do as a family. It’s really quite fulfilling and rewarding to be able to raise these funds and support these charities,” Bulla said.  

“It will happen again in July 2023, and we’re going to play it up again.”

For more information about the War Amps or to donate, visit here.

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Barbara Latkowski

About the Author: Barbara Latkowski

Barbara graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Western University and has covered politics, arts and entertainment, health, education, sports, courts, social justice, and issues that matter to the community. She joined CambridgeToday in 2021
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