Thank you to all our donors for your support

Sunnybrook Foundation is thankful to have supportive donors whose contributions continue to make a difference in so many lives. Through our donors’ tireless support of our compassionate care, leading-edge research and groundbreaking innovations, they allow us to save lives that would not be saved anywhere else.

Simply put, they build the foundation on which we are inventing the future of health care. Get to know some of our donors.

Ajmera Family
BMO Financial Group
Peter Cipriano
The Leslie Family
Michael and Marilena Latifi, and the Sofina & Amici Golf Classic
Liam MacInnis
Frederick W. Thompson
Philip Leong
David Lam
The Feldbergs
McLeish Orlando LLP
Oatley, Vigmond LLP
Ziba Mizrahi

Ajmera Family

The immense generosity of the Ajmera family has been the driving force behind the future Soham & Shaila Ajmera Family Prostate Centre at Sunnybrook.

The Ajmeras have a long been supporters of Sunnybrook, and are grateful for the life-saving care they have received here.

“It’s the place where our entire family has been taken care of,” says Soham, who, along with his sons, founded one of Canada’s leading commercial bakeries, called FGF brands.

Dr. Robert Nam, head of the Odette Cancer Program’s Genitourinary Cancer Care Team, has been essential to that care. The Ajmeras’ trust in Dr. Nam and their respect for him as a doctor and scientist continued to grow over time, prompting them to endow the Soham & Shaila Ajmera Family Chair in Urologic Oncology, which is held by Dr. Nam. He will also be the inaugural medical director of the prostate centre.

“Dr. Nam has done a tremendous amount of innovative research that has changed the understanding and treatment of prostate cancer,” Soham says.

The Ajmera family’s philanthropy is motivated by their desire to fulfill a need in the community. As the most common cancer among men, prostate cancer touches the lives of many Canadians. In fact, one in eight Canadian men will have prostate cancer in their lifetime.

The Soham & Shaila Ajmera Family Prostate Centre will be the foremost of its kind in Canada, where groundbreaking research, advanced diagnostic techniques and precision treatments will save men’s lives and how they live them.

“God has been gracious with us and given us the ability to give back to the community, so this is our way of saying thank you,” Soham says.

BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group has a long-standing tradition of generosity. Committed to improving quality of life in the communities where employees live and work, BMO’s desire to give back is deep-rooted, beginning with its first healthcare donation in 1835.

In supporting the Soham & Shaila Ajmera Family Prostate Centre, BMO Financial Group is continuing its legacy of visionary philanthropy. As the centre’s lead corporate donor, its support allows Sunnybrook’s world-class prostate cancer care team to conduct groundbreaking research, pioneer advanced diagnostic techniques, and use precision treatments to change outcomes for men with prostate cancer.

A dedicated benefactor of Sunnybrook, BMO Financial Group has previously invested in the hospital’s Trauma, Emergency and Critical Care Program. Its sponsorship has also been integral to the success of the Argyle Affair and the Argyle Cup, which benefits the Sunnybrook Research Institute.

Peter Cipriano

As Peter Cipriano’s parents grew elderly and were treated at Sunnybrook for multiple medical conditions, he came to appreciate the holistic approach the hospital’s geriatricians brought to their care.

“I found it incredibly stressful dealing with the complexity of my parents’ health issues,” Peter says. “It helped ease my worries to know they had a geriatrician looking after them. I’m truly grateful for that resource.”

In appreciation, Peter has become a passionate supporter of Sunnybrook’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and has encouraged his community and business colleagues to lend their support as well.

Peter is president of the Irpinia Club of Toronto, which celebrates the rich diversity of Italian culture in Canada. Since 2012, proceeds from the club’s Summer Picnic and Ballo Autunnale events have supported geriatric medicine at Sunnybrook. Peter also donates personally. In 2016, Peter Cipriano and the Irpinia Club raised a combined total of over $760,000. For the past five years, Peter’s efforts have resulted in more than $1.7M invested into geriatric medicine at Sunnybrook.

Peter’s generosity has enabled Sunnybrook to renovate and refurbish two exam rooms, which now offer quiet, comfortable environments for patients and their families. His annual investments also allowed us to expand our unique fellowship training program for hospitalists (physicians who care for patients in hospital). All hospitalist fellows now train in geriatric medicine, meaning they return to work in hospitals across Canada and around the globe with an understanding of the complex health problems and unique needs of the elder population.

In addition, Peter’s support is helping us to create a new geriatric oncology fellowship, linked to Sunnybrook’s new breast cancer clinic for women over 70. Bringing the lens of geriatric medicine to these patients will enhance care, as elderly women often have existing medical issues that can interact with their cancer and affect treatments.

With Peter’s leadership and generosity, Sunnybrook is inventing the future of health care for the elderly and their families, here and far beyond our walls.

The Leslie Family

Sunnybrook's leading neuroendocrine cancer clinic has been named the Susan Leslie Clinic for Neuroendocrine Tumours in recognition of the generous support provided by former Sunnybrook Board Chair David Leslie and his family.

Already Canada's largest and most comprehensive clinic for care and research into these especially challenging cancers, the Susan Leslie Clinic will be bolstered by the Leslie family's investment.

"Often individuals newly diagnosed with these complex and lesser understood tumours feel rudderless as they may not have a clear treatment plan or pathway of care. David's gift will help us support these individuals," says cancer surgeon Dr. Calvin Law, who co-leads the clinic and is head of the Odette Cancer Program's Gastrointestinal Cancer Care Team.

"Our collaborative multidisciplinary care team fully understands neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) to provide tailored treatment," adds medical oncologist Dr. Simron Singh, the clinic's other co-leader.

The clinic honours David's wife, Susan, who passed away as a result of a neuroendocrine cancer in 2009. Susan spent many years under the expert care of Dr. Law, Dr. Georg Bjarnason and subsequently Dr. Singh, as well as many other healthcare professionals at the Odette Cancer Centre. The team's specialization with neuroendocrine cancers added significantly to the care Susan received.

"David, Susan and their family have been tremendous supporters of Sunnybrook for years. David has given his time as hospital Board Chair and invested resources toward our care and research. I am deeply grateful, as is the entire Sunnybrook community," says Dr. Barry McLellan, Sunnybrook's president and CEO.

Neuroendocrine, or carcinoid tumours, are a group of varied malignancies whose early symptoms are often misdiagnosed. In older women, becoming markedly red in the face, or flushed, is often attributed to menopause. Chronice diarrhea may also be a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Though less common, the incidence of NETs is on the rise.

The Susan Leslie Clinic for Neuroendocrine Tumours offers a unique care approach. Multi-modal treatment plans are discussed with patients as they simultaneously see Dr. Law (surgery), Dr. Singh (medical oncology), Dr. Hans Chung (radiation oncology) and a specialized cancer nurse. Other members of the care team include Dr. Laurent Milot (abdominal radiology) and Dr. Corwyn Rowsell (gastrointestinal-dedicated pathology).

The care offered at the clinic is personalized not only by the type of treatment but also by the sequence of treatments. Multi-modal care might involve complex liver surgery, a liver embolization or procedure to block or reduce blood flow to cancer cells in the liver, tailored hormonal therapies before and after surgery, specialized chemotherapy or targeted radioactive particles.

Michael and Marilena Latifi, and the Sofina & Amici Golf Classic

The Sofina & Amici Golf Classic, hosted since 2008 by Sofina Foods Inc., has raised more than $2.2 million for Sunnybrook's state-of-the-art Women & Babies facility and the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program, with a focus on youth mental health.

"I am indebted to my family, friends and loyal suppliers who generously support our initiative year after year," says Michael Latifi, Sofina chairman and CEO. "It is through their support that we have been able to deliver beyond all our expectations."

The tournament began with a goal of raising $50,000 each year. The key to the event's success is going above and beyond participants' expectations. Tournament organizers stayed true to their mission to make this an over-the-top day of indulgence, never compromising on details or the small touches that make the tournament a unique experience for their guests.

"This kind of private support is needed if Sunnybrook is to accomplish its goals," says Dr. Jon S. Dellandrea, Sunnybrook Foundation's president and CEO. "We're very grateful for Sofina, for the Sofina & Amici Golf Classic and for everyone who's ever swung a golf club at this tournament. Each and every participant is truly having an impact on the care we offer our patients."

Liam MacInnis

Liam MacInnis remembered when his grandmother lost her battle to cancer.

"She had a bunch of cancers," he said. "It was really sad for me; I was in junior kindergarten."

Liam donated $150 to Sunnybrook's Odette Cancer Centre in honour of "Grandma MacInnis" and Danny Kyriazis, a good friend of his parents. Both were Sunnybrook patients.

Danny died of cancer two weeks after Liam's birthday. The two never met.

For his 11th birthday party, Liam asked for donations from friends instead of gifts. It's something his brother Nolan did a year previously when he donated to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.

"So I wanted to do that too," Liam said. "My friends were a little surprised that I didn't want gifts, but they thought it was a good idea. I hope the money will go to help people with cancer and make their lives better."

Liam's mother, Karen Smiley-MacInnis, said the kids who came to the party were great.

"A few parents told me they thought it was a very selfless cause," she said, adding their school's focus was "Make a Difference", which also saw Liam organizing a bracelet sale at his hockey tournament to raise money for Free the Children.

Liam said he really likes raising money for charities and hopes to do more in the future.

Frederick W. Thompson

Sunnybrook offers specialized obsessive compulsive disorder care not found anywhere else in Canada, thanks to a transformational $10-million gift from the late Frederick W. Thompson, in 2012.

"It's unfortunate that mental health doesn't get enough attention, because it's important that people have the best support possible," said Mr. Thompson.

The gift - the largest ever private donation to anxiety disorders with a focus on OCD - will be used to establish the Frederick W. Thompson Anxiety Disorders Centre at Sunnybrook, which will help patients recover from often-debilitating disorders with dignity. Patients will receive multidisciplinary and compassionate care, and the centre will attract international experts to collaborate with Sunnybrook's world-class scientists.

Mr. Thompson said he looked forward to seeing the centre's impact on the world stage.

"I hope the centre helps create a greater awareness of these devastating disorders, opens doors in treatment that have so far remained closed due to lack of funding, and that it inspires people toward their own philanthropy," said Mr. Thompson.

"This gift makes a bold statement and represents a real turning point in the research and treatment of anxiety disorders - and for that we're very grateful," said Dr. Peggy Richter, director of Sunnybrook's Clinic for OCD and Related Disorders.

Philip Leong

For Philip Leong, supporting Sunnybrook is an enormous thank you for a number of things. First, it recognizes the gratitude he feels for the care his son Clement received many years ago, as he was born three months early, weighing in at just 2 lbs. He spent considerable time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“The nurses really cared about each baby’s important life, and they were very professional. I was so impressed by the care and professionalism of the doctors and the nurses,” says Leong. “They do more than just their job, and that’s important.”

But his $250,000-gift is also a thank you to Canada as a whole for providing Leong with a quality education and rewarding career after he moved here permanently from Macau, China, in 1987. Leong is now a vice-president and director with RBC Dominion Securities Inc.

"It’s very simple," explains Leong. “I just want to do my part as a citizen and be part of the community. I’m giving what humble contribution I can to allow the hospital to continue its service to the community.”

Leong has supported other health care and education institutions, as well as initiatives within Canada’s Chinese community. He says the exemplary care Sunnybrook provides for the province’s premature babies is a natural fit for his philanthropy.

“I just want to show my support for Sunnybrook; every day there are premature babies receiving services here,” says Leong. “And Canada is a great country and has given me a lot of opportunity as an immigrant. It’s all about Canada."

David Lam

In 1969, David Lam immigrated to Toronto from Hong Kong and enrolled in the business program at Queen's University. Upon graduation, David established Tai Foong International Ltd., one of North America's leading seafood importers.

"My family and I have had great success in Canada. We have committed ourselves to supporting the Schulich Heart Centre to create an innovative facility that's on the cutting edge of patient care," says David.

David is a member of the Schulich Heart Centre Honorary Patrons Council and made a generous donation towards the expansion and renovation of the centre.

"My father was 91 when he passed away at Sunnybrook," says David. "He was well cared for by the medical team and was treated with dignity and respect during his lengthy illness.

"Over the last year I have learned more about Sunnybrook and I feel privileged that I can support this hospital," says David. "I have visited the Schulich Heart Centre and I'm thrilled that my support, combined with the efforts of others, will meet this urgent and critical need to advance patient care."

The Feldbergs

"My family has received excellent care at Sunnybrook," says Joel Feldberg, president and COO of The Global Group. "Both my mother and grandmother were treated at the Schulich Heart Centre. I had spinal surgery at Sunnybrook and my wife will give birth there in a few months.

"What has really stood out to us is how well the medical staff responds to our family and the tremendous care that was provided to my mother and grandmother," remarks Joel. "We developed a very close relationship with the staff at the centre and we wanted to support the cause.

The Feldbergs have made a generous donation in support of the Schulich Heart Centre expansion.

"We would like our support to expand the facility and its medical techniques beyond what is currently available," says Joel. "This will help Sunnybrook maintain its reputation as an internationally renowned centre for heart care.

"People's lives are touched by the hospital," states Joel. "Community support ensures that Sunnybrook will be there for future generations, but more importantly, it provides the sustenance that's needed to guarantee that the hospital is on the forefront of medical innovations."

McLeish Orlando LLP

When the partners at McLeish Orlando LLP received a call from fellow law firm, Oatley, Vigmond LLP, urging them to help support Sunnybrook's Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, John McLeish and Dale Orlando didn't think twice about lending a hand.

Since then, McLeish Orlando has supported Sunnybrook many times because the partners feel that Sunnybrook's physicians, nurses and social workers provide care that is second to none.

"It's astonishing to see what Sunnybrook does for its patients," says John. "Patients often arrive at the hospital unconscious and dependent on life support. Their lives are in very real danger. When we see them later, alert and capable of speaking, it's like night and day. We see these success stories all the time."

John knows first-hand that Sunnybrook offers patients first-class care. He has been a patient at Sunnybrook, and the care he received vastly exceeded his expectations.

"Sunnybrook does not get all the resources it needs from the public sector to do the incredible job it does," states John. "Dale and I feel it is essential for the business and legal communities to support the hospital, no matter what the economy is doing. In fact, in tough economic times, giving is more important than ever."

Oatley, Vigmond LLP

The partners at Oatley, Vigmond LLP have a unique perspective on caring for patients. From bedside to boardroom, they have worked with hundreds of Sunnybrook patients to help them access the care and resources they would need long after their hospital stay ends.

Over the years, they have continually been amazed by the quality of care offered at Sunnybrook and the professionalism of our teams of physicians, nurses and social workers.
Advocating for patients with traumatic brain injuries is a special area of interest for the firm, which has worked with many such patients in our Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic. One day, the firm learned that the clinic's funding was in jeopardy.

"We couldn't stand by and watch such an important community resource disappear," says Roger Oatley, one of the firm's partners. "Patients with brain injuries are at a very real risk of falling through the cracks, and the clinic at Sunnybrook is one of very few resources with the specialized expertise to help them." Oatley, Vigmond responded immediately by financially supporting the clinic and encouraging another firm, McLeish Orlando LLP, to do the same.

Now, the clinic continues to treat patients. "We were in a perfect position to understand and appreciate how important this clinic is for patients," says Roger. "It was our pleasure to invest in its future."

Ziba Mizrahi

Ziba Mizrahi first got involved in philanthropy in her native Iran, building orphanages and supporting social programs for young people.

In the 1970s, Ziba and her family immigrated to Canada and settled close to Sunnybrook. "We moved to Canada because of its education system. It is conflict-free and we felt a true sense of community," explains Ziba. "My family also felt very fortunate to have a world-class medical centre right in our backyard. And, on the rare occasion that we needed to access the hospital for care, it was always exceptional.

"My friend, Isa Ho, told me about her fundraising efforts for the Schulich Heart Centre expansion and I wanted to get involved," says Ziba. "I believe it's important for me to give back, especially when it offers tremendous benefits to the community.

"My hope is that my gift will ensure all patients at the Schulich Heart Centre receive the most innovative care in a facility that improves their quality of life," says Ziba.

"I feel very blessed that my children Sam, Jan, Katrin and Sia are also involved in philanthropy," says Ziba. "They appreciate the importance of giving back and it's reflected in the organizations they support and in how they treat others."