The Canadian travel industry once again came through for Toronto’s SickKids Hospital at TravelBrands’ sixth annual charity golf tournament, raising $553,000 for the facility in just one year.
The tournament took place yesterday afternoon (Sept. 12) at Eagle’s Nest Golf Club in Vaughan and once again, all proceeds from the event, which included live and silent auctions as well as raffle draws for tons of incredible prizes, went to the hospital, with a focus on research and development for the cardiac department, as part of the hospital's Project Horizon expansion.
This year, Jack Armstrong, sportscaster for the Toronto Raptors on TSN was the MC and the auctioneer for the night, and kept the crowd highly entertained, while encouraging those with their eyes on the prize to dig deep into their pockets in support of an incredible cause.
Frank DeMarinis, CEO of TravelBrands, opened the dinner ceremony by telling the crowd that this year, he had a goal of raising $275,000 in support of SickKids. Last year, the company raised $252,000, bringing the amount raised over the last five years to $1 million, thanks to the generosity of those who come out to support the cause year after year.
After the live auction wrapped up, the count was in — and this year, TravelBrands managed to raise $278,000, which then jumped to $553,000 in funds, after this year’s travel partner, Canadian Pacific, matched every dollar.
Alongside the dinner, the tournament included a series of fun stations set up on the green, including food trucks and an ice cream truck, as well as drink stations and even a massage station. A helicopter ball drop saw one lucky golfer win a trip for two, and a BMO million-dollar shootout also occurred, though no one won.
“I have so much gratitude to you all for making this tournament a choice, something you repeatedly come to and make number one in the travel industry,” said Frank DeMarinis, CEO, TravelBrands. “It’s a group of us that come together and rally in order to make this day possible, so thank you to everybody.”
Making a difference
Alongside suppliers and agents, a little girl, wearing a beautiful blue and white dress also sat at the dinner table.
Upon being called up to the stage with her mom, Jacqlyn Marcus, the crowd was introduced to Ava, who at five years old, found herself in need of a life-saving operation.
“Ava has always had a big personality; she’s very curious and smart, and just like any kid, she’d get a cold every now and then, but ‘sick’ was never a word we’d use to describe her,” said Marcus. “Then in January 2018, she started having stomach pains. We sent her to school, convinced that like every time before this, she’d bounce back. But 48 hours later, we found her unconscious, and were told that a virus had attacked her body and shut down her organs, inflaming her heart.”
Ava’s heart never fully recovered from the ordeal, and five months later, she needed a transplant.
“At five years old, she was getting open heart surgery,” her mom said. “But even after that, SickKids would save Ava’s life for a third time.”
Fives months later, Ava’s heart began to fail again. Doctors confirmed that she was a candidate for a Berlin Heart, a device normally used on adults that mechanically supports the hearts of patients with end-stage heart failure. The operation made her just one of eight children to ever receive such a transplant.
“This journey will never be over for us, but your support towards SickKids is what made Ava’s possible,” her mom said.
“To all of our sponsors who make today happen, and all of our travel agent partners across the country who help the cause and believe in SickKids, thank you,” DeMarinis said. “Even though none of my children have gone into the hospital, we all know someone whose kids have. This hospital isn’t just for Canadians, it’s a hospital renowned worldwide, a place where kids will never be turned away. Thank you for helping us achieve what we needed to for SickKids Hospital.”
DeMarinis said his new goal is to raise $2 million for SickKids, after surpassing the original goal of $1 million.
The complete list of winners were:
- 50/50 Draw: Sam Youssef
- Putting Contest: Pam De Hahn
- Get the Goose – Chip to Win by Transat: Kiran Buhdev
- Mechanical Bull Ride by Avis: Roberto Gennaro
- Bahia Principe Helicopter Ball Drop: Ball 115: Tony Rolli
- TravelBrands’ Beat the Exec: James Rice (hole in 1 winner)
- Men’s Closest to the Pin: Brett Watson
- Women’s Closest to Pin: Judie Calucag
- Men’s Longest Drive: Darren Scopis
- Women’s Longest Drive: Lorrie King
- Universal Prize Pack: Dianne Pedroso
- Myrtle Beach Prize Pack: Pat Probert
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