Volunteer spotlight
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Volunteer spotlight

Sunnybrook Foundation is very thankful to have so many supportive volunteers . Our volunteer spotlight is a place to recognize just a few of these supporters and to tell their amazing stories.

Stan and Daphne Tully

Stan and Daphne Tully
Stan and Daphne Tully

Long-time Sunnybrook volunteer Daphne Tully’s watercolour paintings can be found throughout the hospital – from the gift cards featuring images of the McLean House and the Vaughan Estates to ceiling tiles with Van Gogh-inspired sunflowers and Georgian Bay cottage scenes.

The 91-year-old and her 89-year-old husband Stan have volunteered at the hospital for 34 and 29 years respectively. Daphne started with the hospital’s pilot project installing TVs in patient rooms. A former bookkeeper, she then worked as treasurer of the Sunnybrook Volunteer Association (SVA) before heading up its fine arts group. This entails hanging 65 paintings from local art groups in Sunnybrook’s corridors and changing the show every six weeks.

Daphne coaxed Stan to help with the art program and he’s been a Sunnybrook fixture ever since. “The patients didn’t necessarily buy the paintings but they would always be looking at them,” he says. Stan also devised a more theft-resistant way to hang the artworks.

Daphne first offered to paint the McLean House as a fundraising initiative in 2008, and she has followed up with multiple art projects to benefit the hospital, including painting 25 ceiling tiles. The ceiling tile project was sparked by a cancer patient who wished to look at something more appealing. Many of the 400-plus painted tiles around the hospital have touching personal stories attached, the couple says. A $100 donation sponsors a custom-painted tile to be hung somewhere in Sunnybrook.

They remember a young woman admitted after a serious car crash, who could move only her eyes. She pleaded for a dolphin tile. Daphne worked from a picture she and Stan located on the internet. “She was just so thrilled with it,” Stan says. The patient was permitted to take the tile when she was discharged to a rehab unit. “We were able to give her that pleasure,” Daphne says. “I know the art brings a lot of comfort.”

Stan has also been bringing comfort as a Sunnybrook “Heartpal” since his triple bypass 11 years ago. Having played the role of a “standardized patient” to train doctors at the University of Toronto, Stan recognized the signs of a heart attack and insisted Daphne drive him to the hospital even though the SARS crisis was at its height.

As a Heartpal, Stan meets with patients and families before their operations to answer questions and calm their concerns. He also visits recovering patients afterwards. “It’s a benefit that I’m older,” Stan says. “They see that life goes on.”

“We don’t want to sit around at home,” Daphne concludes. “I want to be involved. I want my artwork to connect with and ultimately help the patient and their family.”

Dr. Sandra Black

Dr. Sandra Black
Dr. Sandra Black and Linda Campbell

Sunnybrook neurologist Dr. Sandra Black has been busy advancing treatments for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians affected by stroke and dementia. Somehow, she's also found time to help Sunnybrook attract philanthropic investment for its wide-ranging brain sciences research.

For her skilled and energetic assistance, Dr. Black was named as a recipient of the Sunnybrook Rose Award in 2013. The honour recognizes the countless hours and overwhelming effort our volunteers and hospital staff dedicate to rallying community support for Sunnybrook.

"Dr. Black is an important part of the reason I support Sunnybrook's Brain Sciences Research Program. As director of the program, Dr. Black has a deep passion for the research she and her talented colleagues conduct," says Linda Campbell, a generous philanthropist, friend of Sunnybrook and nominator of Dr. Black for the Rose Award. 

"She also has an unwavering commitment to her patients. Combine this with her powerful intellect and it's no surprise she has gained an international reputation as a dementia and stroke expert," Linda adds.

Dr. Black's eagerness to share her passion with potential Sunnybrook supporters translates into a strong ability to inspire giving from the community. She has helped raise more than $13 million in donations to Sunnybrook since 2004, aiding several areas within brain sciences research.

Among them, our Brain Imaging Research Centre, which is home to a variety of brain imaging analysis and image-guided intervention research. Dr. Black was also instrumental in establishing Sunnybrook as one of the three founding sites for the Heart & Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery, an accomplishment that attracted a significant financial commitment from the foundation to Sunnybrook.

And most recently, Dr. Black helped attract a $10-million investment from the Slaight Family Foundation to create the Slaight Centre for Image-Guided Brain Therapy and Repair - a centre that will conduct the world's first clinical trials using focused ultrasound to deliver therapy through the blood-brain barrier for dementia, stroke and brain tumours.

"Dr. Black's assistance has been indispensible," says Dr. Jon Dellandrea, president and CEO of Sunnybrook Foundation. "Sometimes she helps in a very visible way, meeting with a donor to propose a new research project. Sometimes it's more behind the scenes, helping us to craft a detailed written proposal. Often it's both."

Derek Walton

Derek Walton
Derek Walton

"In order to have a life of purpose, you need to have a purpose in life" - it's a message that Derek Walton is fond of saying, and one that he has lived fully since being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2002.

Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS is a rapidly progressing neuromuscular condition that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscle action, such as those in the arms, legs and face. It leads steadily to paralysis and, typically, death within two to five years. There is no cure.

Derek resolved that he would live with ALS rather than die of it. He would do everything in his power to make the most of his remaining years. Already, he has far exceeded the odds by living with ALS for 12 years.

For Derek, living purposefully has included raising money for ALS research by jumping from a plane at 12,000 feet (more than once) and working tirelessly to increase awareness of the disease, which affects 3,000 Canadians and their families every year. Diane Rowat-Walton, Derek's wife and primary caregiver, has been his unwavering partner through it all.

Derek was recognized for his tremendous contributions toward Sunnybrook's ALS/Neuromuscular Clinic by being named as a recipient of the Sunnybrook Rose Award in 2013. The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated exemplary effort in helping Sunnybrook achieve its philanthropic objectives.

He has certainly accomplished this through his energetic - and daring - efforts to raise money for Sunnybrook's clinic, which is the largest in Canada. The first Walton Family Jumping 4 PALS (People with ALS) tandem skydiving event was held in 2009, and since then has raised more than $267,000 for the clinic and its leading-edge research.

"I truly believe I have found that purpose in life by raising awareness and funds for Sunnybrook's ALS/Neuromuscular Clinic," Derek says.

Jumping out of planes is just one aspect of Derek's commitment to boosting ALS awareness. He has also been an energetic champion for people living with the disease through his membership on ALS Canada's advocacy committee from 2009 to 2012. During that time, he spoke with parliamentarians about the needs of ALS patients and their caregivers, and he even met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to advocate for ALS research.

"Sunnybrook is deeply grateful to Derek for the public awareness he has brought to ALS and for the funds he has raised to bolster research," says Dr. Jon Dellandrea, president and CEO of Sunnybrook Foundation. "Derek's drive and positive outlook are inspirational to all of us."

Learn more about Walton Family Jumping 4 PALS at www.WaltonCure4ALS.ca

Sunnybrook Next Generation

Sunnybrook Next Generation members
(Left to right, front to back) Chair Michael Kaye, Anne-Marie Paquette, Blake Jespersen, Vice-Chair Morgan Borins, Treasurer Simon Leith.

Sunnybrook Next Generation (SNG) is a group of young professionals who serve as ambassadors for Sunnybrook and support its priorities as it continues to provide the best possible care for patients.

"Sunnybrook Next Generation is an opportunity to engage a new demographic towards further involvement in health care," says Michael Kaye, a Toronto entrepreneur, chair of Sunnybrook Next Generation and member of the Sunnybrook Foundation Board. "We want our group to be ambassadors for the hospital in all aspects of its involvement in the community, whether it is fundraising, volunteering, or being vocal about what is needed. We would like to raise $1 million in the first 10 years, and expect to play a key role in contributing to the community."

Already, the work of Sunnybrook Next Generation is having an impact in two of the hospital's highest priority programs: youth mental illness and cardiac care.

"It is inspiring to see the next generation of volunteers stepping up to support Sunnybrook," says Perry Dellelce, Chairman of the Board of Sunnybrook Foundation. "Our future is very bright with these young leaders at the helm."

Members range in age from their 20s to their 40s, though there is no set age range. "Next Generation doesn't mean you have to be young and it doesn't mean there is an end. You could get involved at 25 and still be involved at 60," says Kaye.

What's important is a desire to contribute. The vision to see what can't yet be seen. "Whether it's having a baby, looking after our older relatives, or having a friend who is sick, a lot of us are recognizing the importance of health care in our lives," adds Kaye.

Toronto IT consultant Kyla Falkiner joined Sunnybrook Next Generation because Sunnybrook has always provided her family with excellent care during emergencies and other medical visits. "My youngest son was born at Sunnybrook in 2010. The wonderful new Women and Babies facilities opened just in time!

"I want to support the hospital through Sunnybrook Next Generation so that others can enjoy the same great experience in years to come," says Falkiner, who is Chair of the Marketing and Communications Committee. "What I hope to see is that our group's efforts raise awareness about the hospital and its needs, and help build the community of Sunnybrook supporters, especially among the 25- to 40-something generation."

Sunnybrook Next Generation's first major initiative was to host breakfast for the inaugural RBC Run for the Kids in September, supporting youth mental health. Plans are now underway for SNG's first golf tournament, the proceeds of which will support the Schulich Heart Centre.

Visit Sunnybrook Next Generation for more information.

Victoria's Hope

unnybrook Foundation president Jon S. Dellandrea, Victoria Agius, her mother Marcia and her father Eric, and Odette Cancer Program chief Dr. Andy Smith celebrate the donation from the 2013 Victoria’s Hope fundraising gala.
(Left to right) Sunnybrook Foundation president and CEO Dr. Jon S. Dellandrea, Victoria Agius, her mother Marcia and her father Eric, and Odette Cancer Program chief Dr. Andy Smith celebrate the donation from the 2013 Victoria’s Hope fundraising gala.

The power of one

Victoria Agius was just 10 years old when she founded Victoria's Hope in 2010, a cancer charity she established by selling her own handcrafted bracelets. An important goal for the Markham resident was to show that anyone, regardless of age, income or other factors, could make a difference in the world.

Victoria, a student at San Lorenzo Ruiz Catholic Elementary School and now nearly 13, has quickly achieved that goal. With the help of her family, she has raised $40,000 for the cancer care and research of Sunnybrook's Odette Cancer Program. An effort that began with bracelets has grown to annual fundraising dinners that mobilize the broader community.

"Most rewarding is knowing that I'm going to help people - knowing that all these funds and all this work is going to actually make a difference for families," says Victoria, whose father Eric received "terrific" care at Sunnybrook in 2010 as he overcame non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

"Our family had a happy ending, and I remember Victoria saying that she hoped every family who visits the Odette Cancer Centre could have a happy ending," Eric notes.

Victoria, her mother Marcia and Eric were recently able to see first-hand the impact of Victoria's Hope during the April 2013 opening of Sunnybrook's Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre, the largest and most advanced facility of its kind in Canada. Contributions from Victoria's Hope and many others in the donor community helped fund its construction.

"We're very proud of Victoria," says Marcia, who notes the whole family has rallied around her efforts, including her older brothers Nicholas and Thomas.

"If someone asked me to describe myself, Victoria's Hope would be part of that," Victoria says. "I really want to expand it and make it into something great and help so many more people."

Eric and Victoria discussed the possibility that she should try to raise $1 million for cancer in her lifetime. "It's easy - just raise $20,000 a year for 50 years," he chuckles.

Somehow, it doesn't seem all that far-fetched for this passionate and motivated young woman.

Learn more about Victoria's Hope by visiting www.victoriashope.org

Virginia McLaughlin

Virginia and Dr. Eileen Rakovitch
Virginia (left) stands with Dr. Eileen Rakovitch, fellow Rose Award winner.

There was a time when one might have thought Virginia McLaughlin, a dedicated Sunnybrook volunteer, had actually taken up residence at the hospital.

"For a period," says David Jackson, "I concluded she lived at the hospital, as she was always available for any function, meeting or problem."

David, a former vice-chair of Sunnybrook's Board of Directors who served alongside Virginia, isn't the only one who recognizes the tremendous efforts she has made on behalf of Sunnybrook and its patients. At the 2012 Sunnybrook Rose Awards in October, Virginia received a Rose Award for her outstanding service to Sunnybrook and for advancing its philanthropic objectives.

"Virginia has been the epitome of all that is good at Sunnybrook: a tireless worker, a great healer of disputes, an efficient fundraiser and a more than generous donor," says Terry O'Sullivan, former chair of Sunnybrook Foundation's Board of Directors and a Rose Award recipient in 2011.

Virginia served on the hospital's Board of Directors between 1998 and 2007 - first as vice-chair and then as chair from 2003 to 2007 - and continues to serve as co-chair of the foundation's Odette Cancer Campaign Cabinet.

As Terry notes, Virginia volunteered during sometimes-challenging times for Sunnybrook and its foundation - namely, their merger with Women's College Hospital and the Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital, as well as the subsequent de-merger with Women's College.

As chair of the committee that facilitated the merger of the three foundations, Virginia was "cooperative, courteous, endlessly patient, and exhibited an ability to draw out the best in people," Terry recalls.

Through it all, Virginia says she has enjoyed her time. "Being involved with Sunnybrook is a pleasure, and my term as chair of the hospital board was one of the most rewarding times of my life," she says. "Receiving the Rose Award for doing something one loves is to be doubly rewarded."

"Sunnybrook is an organization that touches one's heart and the hearts of all those who are connected with it," she adds. "It plays a pivotal role in the health-care system, in the lives of the patients it serves, the students it teaches, and the research that will transform the care we receive in the future."

Terry O'Sullivan

Phillip Leong
Corey Simpson, Terry O'Sullivan and Lesley Alboini

Terry O'Sullivan says it's easy to be passionate about Sunnybrook.

And it's his passion and commitment toward Sunnybrook that made Terry the 2011 recipient of the Rose Award for his outstanding contributions as a long-time volunteer.

"I used to say to people - whether they were prospective board members or donors - just walk around this facility with me, see what we do, see how well we do it and meet some of the people who everyday make a difference to people's lives and you will fall in love with this hospital as all of us have," Terry said while accepting his Rose Award last year.

Terry was first introduced to the Sunnybrook family in 2002 when he represented Women's College Hospital Foundation during the discussions that led to the merger of the Sunnybrook, Women's College and Orthopaedic & Arthitic Institute Foundations.

He took on a two-year term as a senior member of the newly formed board, and later stepped up to the role of board chair from 2004 to 2006. Terry - known for his negotiating skills, leadership and a calm approach peppered with timely humour - also represented Sunnybrook through the de-merger of the boards in 2006.

"It has truly been an honour to work with Terry over the years on the Foundation Board, in building support for the hospital that we all care so much about," said Lesley Alboini, who nominated Terry for the Rose Award. "His career as a lawyer requires a great deal of time and commitment. However, Terry still manages to give so much of his time and energy to his volunteer work."

Terry remains a tireless supporter of Sunnybrook in his role as Chair of the Veterans Campaign Cabinet.