Toronto, June 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Right To Play gathered with supporters at its Heroes Gala on Wednesday night and raised $3.1 Million for programs that protect, educate, and empower children in 15 countries around the world, including Indigenous communities here in Canada, to rise above adversity through the power of play.
Right To Play’s Heroes Gala returned after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Honouring iconic Canadians in business, sport and community leadership, the 2022 Heroes Gala celebrated long-time Canadian Advisory Board Member, Larry Tanenbaum, O.C., Chairman of MLSE with the inaugural Humanitarian Award, as well as long-time Ambassador, Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser, O.C., Right To Play Community Mentor, Ciara Lewis and, President and CEO of OMERS, Blake Hutcheson.
“We are thankful to our community of supporters who together raised $3.1 Million to help children to stay in school and graduate, resist exploitation, overcome prejudice, prevent disease, and heal from the trauma of war and displacement. We thank them for their commitment to ensuring that children and youth can recover from the effects of the pandemic and other crises and reclaim their hope for a brighter future,” said Susan McIsaac, CEO of Right To Play. “And we are so proud to recognize our 2022 honourees, four incredible people whose leadership, vision, and commitment are an inspiration to many across this country, and whose contributions have been invaluable to Right To Play’s work.”
Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser shared the news that long-time Right To Play partner, Toronto Maple Leafs through MLSE Foundation, recommitted their partnership with a significant $500,000, four-year grant. The partnership funds will specifically support Right To Play’s Health & Wellness program in Ontario, and advancing girls in sport, through the implementation of two annual gender equity hockey for development clinic in partnered Indigenous communities across the province.
“It is such an honour to be named as the 2022 Heroes Gala Athlete Honouree,” said Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser O.C. “I know first-hand the tremendous impact play and sport had on my life and every child, regardless of the situation they were born into, deserves to experience the learning opportunities and magic that play provides. Being a fierce advocate for gender equality, it is also a great privilege to be supporting an organization that values the role girls can have in their families, communities and in life.”
The Heroes Gala featured playful activations, Indigenous art and entertainment, and surprise appearances from Brendan Shanahan, President of the Toronto Maple Leafs; Masai Ujiri, President of the Toronto Raptors; Bill Manning, President of the Toronto Football Club. Attendees also had the chance to hear directly from Ontario Premier Doug Ford who announced a recently awarded nearly $5M grant in support of Right To Play’s Indigenous Programs. The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development was also in attendance and spoke to the importance of Right To Play’s partnership with Global Affairs Canada, and our shared work to improve the quality of education though the use of play for children and young people, especially girls.
“I was so pleased to join Right To Play’s 2022 Heroes Gala and to celebrate the important partnership between Right To Play and Global Affairs Canada,” said the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development. “Despite the unprecedented global impact of COVID and other crises, Right To Play continued to support the world’s most marginalized children when they needed it most. Play is such an effective tool for learning, it can also encourage and uplift those children dealing with uncertainty and disruption in their lives. It was inspiring to see so many leaders come together in support of this work and to share the story of impact with Canadians.”
The 2022 Heroes Gala, with Title Sponsors Scotiabank and MLSE, brought together more than 1,000 community leaders in business, sports, entertainment, government and philanthropy to raise funds for the 2.3 million children Right To Play serves globally and within over 70 Indigenous communities in Canada.
The 2022 Hero Award Winners are:
- Corporate Hero Award: Blake Hutcheson, President and CEO, OMERS
- Athlete Hero Award: Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser O.C., Olympic gold medalist, Medical Doctor, Hockey Hall of Famer and Senior Director of Player Development for the Toronto Maple Leafs
- Youth Hero Award, Canada: Ciara Lewis, Community Mentor, Right To Play Indigenous Programs
- Humanitarian Award: Larry Tanenbaum O.C., Chairman, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
For more information, about Right To Play visit www.RightToPlay.ca
About Right To Play
Right To Play is a global organization that protects, educates and empowers children to rise above adversity using the power of play. We reach 2.3 million children each year in some of the most difficult and dangerous places on earth, helping them to stay in school and graduate, resist exploitation, overcome prejudice, prevent disease and heal from the trauma of war. Working in 15 countries globally, including in over 70 Indigenous communities in Canada, Right To Play harnesses the power of play, one of the most fundamental forces in a child’s life, to teach children the critical skills they need to dismantle barriers and embrace opportunities, in learning and in life. Visit www.RightToPlay.ca for more information.