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Rallying Together

Toronto Hope Charity Bonspiel November 2019

From hosting paint nights to golf tournaments and more, community fundraising events have the power to support the research and treatment discoveries of tomorrow. Here are just a few events from 2019-20 that highlight all that can be achieved when valued members of our community come together in support for Sunnybrook.

Curling with purpose

“The idea was curling with purpose,” says Shawnessy Johnson as she describes the first year of the Toronto Hope Charity Bonspiel (pictured above). Johnson was one of the organizers of the women’s curling extravaganza, which took place in November 2019 at the East York Curling Club. The inaugural event raised more than $41,000 for Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre!

The Toronto Hope was inspired by a long-running women’s bonspiel in Thunder Bay, the Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic.

Johnson and her friends decided to create an event that combined fun, curling and fundraising and set to work finding sponsors, partners and participants. “We think of HOPE as ‘Harnessing Our Positive Energy,’” she says, adding that in addition to raising support for Sunnybrook, everyone at Toronto Hope had a blast. “With over 12 curling clubs represented from across Ontario, the goal of hosting the best one-day bonspiel was achieved,” she says.

A special place in their hearts

Jonathan Yu and his wife Vanessa
Mama Yu's 5k for Heart Health September 2019
"We have nothing but good things to say about Sunnybrook. It has a special place in our hearts," says Vanessa.

Jonathan Yu and his wife Vanessa (pictured above) are avid runners. One of their biggest cheerleaders had always been Jonathan’s mother, fondly known as Mama Yu. Whether Jonathan and Vanessa were running in races close to home or as far as Chicago for the annual marathon, Mama Yu could often be seen cheering them on from the sidelines.

When Jonathan’s mother passed away suddenly from a heart attack in April 2019, he knew he wanted to find a way to celebrate her caring spirit.

Together with Vanessa, Jonathan decided to organize Mama Yu's 5k for Heart Health, with the goal of raising awareness about heart health and to “keep her spirit alive.” They held the first run/walk in September 2019 at Fairy Lake in Newmarket, and funds raised from the event were donated to Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Program.

“We knew we wanted to do something special that honoured Mama Yu, that inspired people to be active outdoors, and that raised money for a cause we believed in,” says Jonathan.

They chose Sunnybrook because their daughter was born there in July 2018, and the first-time parents were thrilled with the care they received. “Everyone was so welcoming,” says Vanessa. “We have nothing but good things to say about Sunnybrook. It has a special place in our hearts,” says Vanessa.

The family that fundraises together

Members of the Toronto Police Service's South and West Asian Consultative Committee.

In the Rambharack family, philanthropy starts very young.

Eight-year-old Sarah Rambharack, who lost her mother to colon and liver cancer in December 2018, came to Sunnybrook Foundation a year later to present a cheque for $2,000 from the Toronto Police Service.

Sarah’s father Detective Neil Rambharack is a police officer, and he says members of the Toronto Police Service' South and West Asian Consultative Committee decided to come together to support Sarah’s desire to spread awareness. “The committee learned about our tragedy and wanted to assist with Sarah’s quest to raise funds toward Sunnybrook,” says Detective Rambharack.

Every year at the committee’s holiday event, they raise funds for a worthwhile cause. In 2019, they chose Sunnybrook’s gastrointestinal surgical oncology research program to honour the life and legacy of Neil’s wife Heather, who died at age 38. Young Sarah championed the campaign.

“If we can help a family or an individual get past the cancer, that is what we hope for,” said Detective Rambharack.

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