The eagerly anticipated event had been postponed – not once but twice – from 2020 due to the pandemic. The fabulous evening was worth the wait; it brought together the spinal cord injury community to celebrate the accomplishments of our past and raise a toast to a bright future together. With delicious fare and spectacular entertainment including the stupefying illusionist, Aaron Paterson, and an energetic performance by the Swing Shift Big Band that had everyone wanting to jive, the celebration was sparkling, indeed!
We were thrilled to be joined by such a broad spectrum of our community including volunteers, SCIO staff, members of the Board of Directors, partner organizations and award recipients. The evening’s program was kicked off by Jim Vigmond of Oatley Vigmond, the presenting sponsor. Jim spoke of the over 30-year relationship between the firm and SCIO and its predecessor, the Canadian Paraplegic Association. Jim and Oatley Vigmond have been ardent supporters of SCIO with more than $1 million invested in support for programs and services. The Sharon and Jim Vigmond Philanthropy Award are given annually to an individual or individuals who have made an outstanding financial contribution and demonstrated passion and commitment to inspiring others to support SCIO. This year’s award recipients were the employees of the Ontario Public Service who donate every year through the Federated Health Charities campaign.
It was an honour to have many of this year’s award recipients with us for the celebration. We recognized Jacob Aitcheson of Lerners Lawyers as the Philanthropic Volunteer of the Year for his committed work as a member of our Southwest Professionals’ Executive Committee. The Patti Dawson Activist of the Year Award was presented to Blair Williams for his tireless work on bettering the lives of people with disabilities through improvements to the Ontario Disability Support Program. While they were unable to attend, we honoured the Bourassa Savaria Foundation as our Philanthropic Partner of the Year for their foundational support of our Family Peer Program. A great friend and supporter of SCIO, Dr. Cathy Craven of University Health Network and the University of Toronto, was awarded our Community Builder Award for her significant and fundamental contribution to the spinal cord injury community, and we look forward to being able to present her the award in person at a later date.
In his address, SCIO CEO, Stuart Howe, touched on our 75-year history of addressing critical issues in the disability community. But through the story of Mary, a long-time volunteer who has used a wheelchair for 60 years, we heard clearly that we are not done. We have to keep going! At SCIO, we are so grateful to our community – from donor to volunteer to advocate and beyond – as we know that you are here with us as we move boldly forward to an exciting future through initiatives like our Pee It Forward campaign which is focused on improving public coverage for intermittent catheters and supplies. Many thanks to those of you who donated in the moment! You can learn more at peeitforward.ca.
The event, and indeed many of the programs and services we offer, would not be possible without the financial support of our generous sponsors. We are incredibly grateful to our presenting sponsor Oatley Vigmond for their central role in bringing this celebration to life. A special thank you to our Diamond Sponsors: Bell Mobility, Coloplast, Motion and Wright Rehab. It was great to see so many of their teams at the event. Thank you also to our Community Champions: Bridgepoint Financial, Casemark Financial, Fiera Capital, Hollister and Thomson Rogers for their sponsorship and for joining the festivities. We are also very grateful to Joanne Smith from Essential Elements for being our Emcee for the evening and sharing her story with us. She has been incredibly giving of her time over the decades and the celebration wouldn’t have been the same without her.
Lastly, we wish to thank the entire SCIO community who helped our organization get to 75 years and beyond.