Inventing the future
starts now

While helping manage a law firm, running his successful litigation practice, travelling internationally, and raising two daughters with his wife Corey Simpson, Terry O’Sullivan has always found time for Sunnybrook both as a donor and volunteer.

Terry chose Sunnybrook more than 20 years ago as a focus for his volunteer leadership, and the depth of his commitment to the hospital is almost fathomless. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Sunnybrook Foundation, as well as its Executive Committee and Governing Council. In 2011, he was the recipient of the Sunnybrook Rose Award for his outstanding contributions to the hospital. He is a member of the Kilgour Legacy Society and Volunteer Lead Director of the Gift and Estate Planning Program.

“Sunnybrook has moved with such breathtaking strides, it’s hard to keep up,” says Terry. “There is great ambition to always do better, do more. To innovate and investigate and use what you learn to improve treatment. It is exciting and energizing.”

Terry’s commitment to Sunnybrook doesn’t just span the past and the present, it extends into the future. It will be felt even by future generations, as he and Corey, who is also a lawyer, are leaving a legacy gift to the hospital in their Wills.

As volunteer lead of the Gift and Estate Planning Program, he wants to inspire others of his generation to do the same. “Legacy giving – through a bequest, RRSP/RIF, life insurance gift, charitable annuity or charitable remainder trust – is a way of showing your children and grandchildren how you feel about the need to make society better going forward,” says Terry. “Philanthropy is a learned behavior.”

A passion for giving back runs deep in both Terry’s and Corey’s families. All four of their parents, who are now deceased, were tireless volunteers in their communities. Daughters Claire and Maura, themselves both lawyers, are supportive and understanding of their parents’ commitment to Sunnybrook.

Now retired from his career as one of Canada’s preeminent litigation lawyers and living on a farm north of Cobourg, Ont., he muses about what “inventing the future of health care” meant to him when he first took on a leadership role at Sunnybrook, and what it means now.

Terry O’Sullivan and Corey Simpson.

Back then, the hospital was developing a philosophy of being not only at the leading edge in terms of treatment, but also at the forefront in terms of research. Those two things co-existing at Sunnybrook seemed to me to be the future of health care,” says Terry. “That’s the reason I came. That’s the reason I stayed.”

Lately, he has seen the effects of this up close. For the last two years, he’s been receiving chemotherapy at the Odette Cancer Centre, an experience that has heightened his admiration. “I see world-class doctors, who could have practised anywhere, who came to Canada and came to Sunnybrook because of the opportunity to do leading-edge treatment and research.”

As Sunnybrook celebrates its 75th anniversary, its spirit of innovation is a valued part of its past and an integral part of its future. And so is the incomparable Terry O’Sullivan.

“When I talk about inventing the future of health care, it’s about making people’s lives better, today, tomorrow, the next day, the next year and not just 10 or 20 years from now,” he says. “It’s about inventing the future now. The future is NOW.”