One of our favourite nights of the year occurred this past week. Our Sponsor Appreciation Night has become an annual event to share and celebrate some highlights from our students’ success stories throughout the year. With so many exceptional experiences to choose from, it always is a difficult task to pin point specific students and stories to feature, and this year was no exception.

This year’s evening was held at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. The evening began with a cocktail reception catered by Taste Culinary. Our guests were treated to a project fair honoring a variety of charities from select students and host schools across the city. After mingling with our students, our guests were then gathered together to listen to our featured speakers for the evening.

Tom Ehrlich led things off. Tom, a busy executive and chairman of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, spoke from his unique perspective. While Tom has been a devoted sponsor of our program for years, he felt the need to do more. For the past year, Tom has generously volunteered his time to join a class and experience the program first hand. Tom truly exemplifies the power of giving back and he shared his experience with us in his charming and candid manner.

The spirit of PGB was further strengthened by the addition of a very special award that was introduced on this evening. Affectionately known as “the Joey”, the award is in honor of the recent passing of one of our cherished sponsors, Joe Goodbaum. The award was created to recognize an alumni student who embodies qualities of empathy, generosity, and leadership; all character traits that Joey, himself, represented. His family was present to inaugurate the award and we were all touched by their grace and gratitude.

Up next, was a student who was featured in our latest blog, John MacPherson. Dressed in his chef’s jacket and beaming with his endearing smile, John shared his own story and the charity that was established on his behalf, John’s Plate. John was followed by his mother, Jackie MacPherson, who spoke from her multiple vantage point. Jackie is not only a parent of a PGB student, but she is also the founder of a charity and a host teacher of our program. She was able to give her own perspective on our program.

We then called upon a PGB alumni who had an exceptional year. Erin Sade was featured in our blog last fall, when she was awarded and recognized for her Twinning project. Since then, Erin has been working as an Ambassador for the Canadian Society of Yad Vashem. She has been visiting classroom across the city and telling young people about her experience with the Twinning program and educating children about the Holocaust. This project was recently recognized further when Erin was honoured at the National Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa. She received the Cantor Kraus Catalyst for Change Award. As if that was not enough, Erin then treated us to a hauntingly beautiful performance on violin. The performance accompanied a montage of slides featuring many of the projects throughout the year.

To top off the evening, our first annual ‘Joey’ award was presented. We couldn’t ask for a better recipient than the aforementioned, Erin Sade. It was an inspiring and emotional celebration of success, achievement and empowerment.

While it is difficult to truly capture the magic that is created in our classrooms, this annual ceremony is the next best thing. What a year we have had! Thanks to all our students, parents, teachers and sponsors for giving us so much to celebrate. Can’t wait to see what is in store for next year.