Volunteer Spotlight

Your time means the world to us.

To all of our incredible volunteers, we appreciate you taking the time to lend your support. Sunnybrook could not exist without the dedication of our volunteers. We rely on the time our many volunteers donate to help us provide excellent care to all of our patients and their families.

There are endless ways to donate your time by volunteering at the hospital, from working directly with patients, to helping out at events, to providing assistance on the administrative end of our organization.

Learn more about our leadership volunteers

If you’d like to volunteer with the hospital, click here.

Stan and Daphne Tully
Dr. Sandra Black
Derek Walton
Sunnybrook Next Generation
Victoria’s Hope
Virginia McLaughlin
Terry O'Sullivan

Stan and Daphne Tully

Long-time Sunnybrook volunteers Daphne and Stan Tully logged a combined 60-plus years between them, most notably as the moving forces behind the Sunnybrook Volunteer Association’s (SVA) fine arts program. Daphne’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.

A former bookkeeper, Daphne was treasurer of the SVA before heading up its fine arts group. This entailed hanging 65 paintings from local art groups in Sunnybrook’s corridors and changing the show every six weeks.

Daphne coaxed her husband Stan to help with the art program and he too became a Sunnybrook fixture. 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 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.

After a triple heart bypass, Stan also brought comfort as a Sunnybrook “Heartpal,” meeting with patients and families before their operations to answer questions and allay concerns. He also visited recovering patients afterwards.

Daphne and Stan continued to volunteer at Sunnybrook until their final years. They were widely known and admired throughout the Hospital for their many contributions and dedicated volunteerism. Although they are no longer with us, their legacy will continue to be felt for many years to come.

Dr. Sandra Black

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.

In October 2013, 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 indispensable," 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

"In order to have a life of purpose, you need to have a purpose in life" - it's a message Derek Walton was fond of saying, and one that he  lived fully after 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.  Derek far exceeded the odds by living for more than 12 years, passing away in 2015.

For Derek, living purposefully  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, was 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 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 said.

Derek was also 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 former 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," said Dr. Jon Dellandrea, president and CEO of Sunnybrook Foundation. "Derek's drive and positive outlook were inspirational to all of us."

Sunnybrook Next Generation

Sunnybrook Next Generation is a group of volunteer advocates and ambassadors for Sunnybrook.

Sunnybrook Next Generation supports the mission and goals of Sunnybrook by engaging a new generation of supporters through awareness initiatives, fundraising activities, and active participation in the community of Sunnybrook.

Mission: SNG’s aim is to engage membership and the young professional community at large and share with them the stories of lives saved and changed forever by the innovations discovered at Sunnybrook.

Areas of Focus: SNG's efforts are organized into three areas of focus:

  • Fundraising
    To raise funds for the hospital’s highest priority needs
  • Engagement
    To build a network of young leaders who are passionate advocates for Sunnybrook
  • Education
    To facilitate educational awareness of Sunnybrook’s programs and its financial goals

Visit Sunnybrook Next Generation for more information.

Victoria’s Hope

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 quickly achieved that goal. With the help of her family, she has raised over $100,000 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 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

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 spent six years serving as the co-chair of the Foundation's Odette Cancer Campaign Cabinet from 2007 to 2013.

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

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 & Arthritic 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 Sunnybrook Foundation Governing Council.