Making a difference

David Appleyard describes Sunnybrook as “the little hospital that grew.” He’s lived nearby for close to five decades, and he’s proud to support with a monthly gift.

For more than 50 years, David Appleyard has watched Sunnybrook grow from a smaller hospital into the sprawling and internationally renowned academic health sciences centre it is today. Whenever he had health issues, he says he ended up getting support from Sunnybrook.

“When I was first there for gallbladder surgery in the 1980s, it was a good hospital, but it was a fraction of its current size. Now, the scale of it is so impressive,” says David.

“The huge number of dedicated staff who are working there, trying to make life better for the people of Toronto is extraordinary! And yet I never feel that they have lost their personal touch. It always seems like I matter to them. I think that’s remarkable.”

David has played a personal role in that growth, as monthly donor to Sunnybrook since 2014. He says he’s been inspired by the care he’s received, both through the hospital and from his family doctor, who is part of the Sunnybrook Academic Family Health Team.

David’s monthly gift is his way of honouring his family doctor at Sunnybrook for all that she’s done.

“I know in Canada we pay for hospitals through taxes and things, but care often feels like it’s free to us,” says David. “It gives me a sense that I need to pay it back, as best as I can.” Support from the community drives forward improvements in quality of care and innovations that can have a ripple effect across the clinical research landscape.

It is important to David that his donations are supporting research with the potential to help build an even healthier society.

The little bit that I give isn’t going to make that great of a difference on its own, but collectively, it makes a big difference,” he says.

David and his late wife were under the care of their family doctor at Sunnybrook for a number of years, and when she became seriously ill, their doctor was very helpful and supportive through her last days, he says – living up to Sunnybrook’s mission to be there for patients when it matters most.

“After my wife died, I said to our family doctor, ‘Look, I want to honour you and thank you for what you’ve done. I’d like to support any charity of your choice,’” David says. “And she replied: ‘Sunnybrook Foundation.’ I thought it was perfect. What could be more appropriate than that?”