TORONTO — Members of the foodservice industry turned out Saturday for the Annual Friends of We Care (FOWC) Dinner and Awards Gala, raising more than $1.3 million to send children with disabilities to Easter Seals camps across Canada.
“Camp provides kids a wonderful summer experience and deserved escape from their day-to-day routine,” said Steven Prisco, chair, Board of Directors, Friends of We Care. “It’s a place to develop life-changing skills, make friends and build confidence. It also allows parents the opportunity to recharge while their kids are having the time of their lives.”
The “Once Upon A Time” – themed event, held at Toronto’s International Centre, featured chef stations from sponsors such as High Liner Culinary, Maple Leaf Foodservice, Piller’s Foodservice and Sysco Toronto. A post-dinner dessert extravaganza was presented courtesy of chef Jordana Britt of Michaud and chef Joel Levy of SIR Corp.
Masters of Ceremonies Kevin Frankish and Michael “Pinball” Clemons kept the crowd entertained, but the young Friends of We Care ambassadors, Aidan Visentin and Grace Kennedy, quickly stole the show with their messages of inclusion. “I may walk differently than you,” Kennedy told the crowd. “But we’re just the same.”
Three awards were presented to Friends of We Care members who have gone above and beyond in their support of the organization. Brent Cator of Cardinal Meat Specialists Ltd. received the Gary Wright Humanitarian Award in recognition of his 22 years of FOWC support. The We Care Corporate Friend Award was handed out to Smoke’s Poutinerie. The company sends a poutine truck to We Care Camp Day at Camp Woodeden each summer and launched the Charity Eat-Off Challenge at the annual World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto. In its first two years, the challenge has raised $100,000 to send kids to camp. Finally, Frank Geier was awarded the We Care Hall of Fame title in recognition of his contributions to the foodservice industry.
“Our fundraising efforts in the last 34 years have netted more than $22.5 million,” said Prisco. “That scale of commitment has sent thousands of children with disabilities to accessible Easter Seals summer camps across Canada. What an amazing accomplishment by all of you and your organizations.”