For those of us who grew up in the 80’s in Toronto, Dan Akroyd was as big of an icon to comedy as Roots Canada was to fashion. Parachute Gala co-chairs Michael Budman, co-founder of Roots Canada, and his wife Diane Bald presented this fundraiser at REBEL Toronto on Wednesday, May 31, 2017, “Wednesday Night Live,” to raise awareness and funds for injury prevention.

Saturday Night Live alumni Dan Akroyd was the Master of Ceremonies for the event as well as a musical performer; reliving his “Blues Brothers” persona. Don Green, the other founder of Roots Canada, Eugene Levy, another Canadian comedian, and Michael Babcock, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs and internationally acclaimed filmmaker Norman Jewison attended the VIP Reception.

Next to the outdoor patio, was a station filled with freshly shucked oysters served with lemon wedges and fresh shrimp with cocktail sauce. Lobster rolls, risotto cakes, duck pizza, and smoked salmon on blini’s were some of the hors d’oeuvres passed around. Two signature cocktails were made with Dan Akroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka; “Protect your Head” mixed with tangerine juice and maple syrup, garnished with an orange wheel and “Dan’s ‘54 Bar Car” mixed with vermouth, olive brine, garnished with pearl onions. Canadian sports legend Steve Podborski, President and CEO of the organization Parachute, was the first presenter on stage. He gave us the bad news that Saturday Night Live star Michael Che was unable to perform at the gala as scheduled due to a flight delay from New York. Both Dr. Charles Tator, a gala committee and board member of Parachute and his Excellency the right honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, paid tribute to the 2017 Parachute Safety Award recipients; Gordon & Kathleen Stringer, parents to Rowan Stringer and advocates of Rowan’s Law.  Ned Levitt, another Parachute Board Member, presented the 2017 Stacey Levitt Memorial Award to student Jenicca Jean.

The meal for the evening was prepared by caterer Toben and started with a spring asparagus and roasted hen of the wood mushroom salad topped with a truffle sherry vinaigrette. The main was a chimichurri roasted organic chicken supreme accompanied by spring pea and Yukon gold potato puree, haricot vert, green pea and white bean succotash and pickled heirloom carrot and pea shoot slaw. Although the food was excellent, the entertainment was even better!

Laura Bretan, a petite 15-year-old from Romania with the strong, mature operatic voice performed first. I could see why she was the winner of Romania’s Got Talent in 2016. Stephan Moccio, Grammy and Academy Award-nominated composer and co-writer of the theme song for the Vancouver 2010 Winter OlympicsI Believe” played the piano while Fefe Dobson, Ryland James, and Alan Frew, former “Glass Tiger” frontman, each sang one of his songs. The end was not to be missed when all the evening’s talents performed on stage together, supporting Parachute, a national charity dedicated to reducing the devastating impact of preventable injuries.

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