The bleachers of Maple Leaf Gardens were filled. In a sight reminiscent of the days when Toronto’s historic stadium was in its prime, roughly three thousand people took to the stands. The dress code for the evening though, was a far cry from hockey skates and team jerseys; the stadium floor was a sea of black ties and stunning gowns as the guests were seated for the David Foster Foundation Miracle Gala and Concert.
The David Foster Foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization that provides financial support for non-medical expenses to Canadian families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants. A national organization since 2006, the Foundation has an impressive track record: over the past twenty-seven years, it has come to the aid of nearly a thousand families in need of financial support.
KHACHILIFE’s Ramsin Khachi was there to experience the event firsthand:
“I attended as a guest of Marty Davis, President and CEO of Cambria Quartz and Sun Country Airlines. Marty is a friend of David’s and was there to support the cause. I found myself at a remarkable table: Marty and his wife Anne, Wanda and Ronnie Hawkins, Paul Golini of EMPIRE Communities, Frank Magliocco of PWC Canada, Summer Kath of Cambria USA, and sitting to my right was the legendary Gordon Lightfoot and his wife Kim. This, for me, was an incredibly surreal experience; I still remember the first song I heard when I came to Canada, Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’, playing at the Cinesphere at Ontario Place. Now here I am, 40 years later, sitting beside that brilliant musician.
The evening was exceptionally produced and the show itself featured some amazing musical icons: Stevie Wonder, Michael Bolton, Peter Cetera, Kiesza, as well as stand-up comedian Sinbad. But as we watched the show from the floor, we actually became a part of the show ourselves. Above the star-studded floor where people dined, the bleachers began to fill with thousands of other guests who had bought tickets in support of the foundation and to experience the extraordinary musical talents of the night. Simply put, it was spectacular.
After the desert course – and to add to my excitement – David Foster came over to our table to pay tribute to Ronnie Hawkings and asked that he sing a line from his hit song “Forty Days.” A short while later David returned to honor the second musical legend at our table and asked if Gordon would grace the audience with a line or two of “If You Could Read My Mind.” Gordon not only sang a line or two -he performed the entire song. I get chills even writing about the moment.
Then it came time to get down to business. The audience was asked to support the cause by sponsoring families in need. The average cost of support one family for one year for is $10,000; after all, how can parents hold a job and maintain a household all while being at a hospital full time for a sick child? You can imagine how important a foundation like this is to these families, how it keeps them together and prevents their lives from falling apart.
Marty Davis was the first to instantly step forward as a sponsor. Bravo Marty! That enthusiasm for giving got the entire room started. In no time, it snowballed: people offered sponsorship for one, two, three families – some for up to 10 years. And then amidst the frenzy of staff getting to all these supporters, a couple stood up and said, “We’ll match all of your donations, dollar for dollar. If you raise a million here tonight, we’ll match it. If you raise a hundred million, we’ll match it.” I don’t know who that couple was, but that kind of generosity was incredible to watch. In the words of Davis Foster himself, “in life you must be a giver and not a taker,” and this night was a testament to that adage.
The night was unforgettable – well produced, well organized, a lineup of amazing talent and all for a wonderful cause. The Gala ended up raising six and a half million dollars that night and as a small group of us celebrated at the after party, I asked David, as we were sitting around a bowl of French fries, if he was pleased with the evening. He smiled, nodded his head, and said, “Very.”