TORONTO — Approximately 900 members of the foodservice industry turned out Saturday for the Annual Friends of We Care Dinner and Awards Gala, raising more than $1 million to send children with disabilities to Easter Seals camps across Canada.
“Friends of We Care continues to achieve amazing accomplishments,” executive director Kevin Collins told the gathering. “It’s all thanks to the power of our membership, our events and programs and our many volunteers. Our mission and vision of sending kids with disabilities to camp through the collaborative efforts of the foodservice community allows campers to realize their full potential.”
The “Caretucky Derby” horseracing-themed event, held at Toronto’s International Centre, featured chef stations from sponsors such as Campbell’s Foodservice, Sir Corp, High Liner Foods and Piller’s Food Service. Guests sat down to a three-course dinner prepared by chef Tawfik Shehata and his team at the International Centre.
Masters of Ceremonies Kevin Frankish and Michael “Pinball” Clemons kept the crowd entertained but the young Friends of We Care ambassadors, Taylor and James, quickly stole the show as they shared memories of their camp experiences.
Three awards were presented to Friends of We Care members who have gone above and beyond in their support of the organization. Bernice Blomme received the Gary Wright Humanitarian Award in recognition of her decade of volunteerism. The We Care Corporate Friend Award was handed out to C.W. Shasky & Associates, which began its involvement with Friends of We Care more than 20 years ago. Finally, Gary Seaman was awarded the We Care Hall of Fame title in recognition of his contributions to the foodservice industry.
The evening wound up with a live auction featuring executive suites for Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors games as well as a one-of-a-kind dinner created by chef Shehata, which raised $18,000 in less than 15 minutes for the charity.
To date, Friends of We Care has raised more than $19 million and has sent thousands of children to camp. “Camp not only gives these kids a wonderful escape from their day-to-day routine, it also provides them the opportunity to develop life-changing skills,” said Jim Greenway, Chair of Friends of We Care.