TORONTO — The foodservice industry turned out in force Saturday night, channeling its inner-’80s for the annual Friends of We Care gala.
Held at the Toronto’s International Centre, the event — themed Back to the ‘80s: When Friends of We Care Was Born — raised funds to send kids with disabilities to accessible Easter Seals camps. At the end of the night, a cheque for more than $1.3 million was presented to Easter Seals on behalf of Friends of We Care.
“There are no words to describe the power and magic of these camps,” said Tiana Rodrigues, executive director, Friends of We Care Foundation Inc. “In a world of barriers (unnoticed by most), accessible Easter Seals summer camps are often the one place where kids can be kids.”
The vision of Gary Wright, whose son was born with Cerebral Palsy, Friends of We Care has been the charity of choice for the Canadian foodservice-and-hospitality industry since 1983. In that time, fundraising efforts have netted more than $24 million and sent thousands of kids to camp.
“This evening is one of our key fundraising events and our Gala committee has once again outdone itself,” said Steven Prisco, chair, board of directors, Friends of We Care Foundation Inc. “It’s an evening where we honour those who have helped Friends of We Care.”
The evening was once again emceed by Mike “Pinball” Clemons and Kevin Frankish, but it was Friends of We Care Ambassadors Grace Kennedy and Shamil Sohail who stole the show, sharing their camp experiences and their insights into accessibility issues.
Three awards were also handed out during the evening. The Gary Wright Humanitarian Award was presented posthumously to Michel Lamy, who worked tirelessly with Friends of We Care, both organizing and participating in events. The Friends of We Care Hall of Fame Award was presented to Rod Stroud, former president of Sysco Canada. The final award, the We Care Corporate Friend Award, was presented to Burnbrae Farms for its commitment and support of the organization.