On Saturday, April 16, 2016, the Starlight Children’s Foundation Gala 2016 transformed Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel into an undersea wonderland. Host by TV personality Rick Campanelli and presented by Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us Canada, this year’s gala raised a record-breaking $860,000!

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Over 750 supporters flocked to the venue to dive into the joy of childhood and explore the wonders of the ocean while supporting in and out-of-hospital programming for seriously ill children across Canada. There were mermaids selling raffle tickets, a harpist, calypso band, an Under the Sea photo booth, a wishing tree, a Tocara Jewelry booth that donated a portion of its sales to Starlight, and sand art and glass blowing stations. Guests also had the chance to bid on incredible silent & live auction items like a WWE Survivor Series flay-away family package with airfare and accommodations, an Italian five-course dinner for ten at home with Massimo Bruno, and priceless items like Trilogy Star Wars collection frames and a platinum suite for eighteen people at the Rogers Centre to see the Toronto Blue Jays VS Los Angeles Dodgers. With $20, donors took home Quinn, the seventh limited edition collectible Starlight bear designed by Starlight’s seven year old child Desiray.

Patrick Lefrancois (Gala Chair) & Brian Bringolf (Starlight Executive Director) holding Quinn, Starlight's collectible bear
Patrick Lefrancois (Gala Chair) & Brian Bringolf (Starlight Executive Director)

Desiray was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia two years ago at the age of five. She fought fearlessly with active chemotherapy and treatments and is now a survivor. Quinn was inspired by Desiray’s story with the turquoise cape representing her strength, courage and “special powers” to make the world a brighter place. By purchasing one of the collectible bears, guests took part in helping Starlight to continue brightening up the lives of seriously ill Canadian children.

For the price of $50, raffle ticket purchaser had the chance to win airfare for two to anywhere in North America (valued at $2,734, donated by the Air Canada Foundation), a $500 gift card for Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us, or a $250 gift card to Bon Apetite (sponsored by Cara Operations Limited).

The Wish Auction encouraged bidders to help achieve Starlight children from four to eighteen’s wishes by donating $3,500 towards Starlight’s unique program, which provides children a once in a lifetime experience such as a chance to meet their celebrity idol, an adventure across North America, an experience with a superhero, or a wish item.

Among attendees were notables Alison Dore (radio personality), Rick Campanelli (event host and TV personality), Tyler Shaw (musician), Simone Denny (vocalist), Love it or List It’s Hilary Farr and David Visentin, Jonathan Hood (former Argonaut), The Next Step’s Victoria Baldesarra, Degrassi’s Ana Golja and Ricardo Hoyos, Jayne Heitmeyer (actress), Larry Day (actor) and Rudy Blair (media personality).

Money raised from the Starlight Children’s Foundation Gala 2016 will help fund Starlight’s in and out-of-hospital programs including Comfort Kits, which has all the hospital essentials for an unexpected stay, Hospital Happenings and Fun Centers™, which are equipped with a flat screen television with a Nintendo Wii-U™ gaming system, Tablet Programs, Treasure Chests, and Out-of-hospital programs including Starlight Escapes and Day Brighteners that provides special outings to outdoor events, and Starlight Wishes.

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