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The donors: Rob Nicolucci and staff at RN Design Ltd.

The gift: $20,000 plus building playgrounds for children with life-threatening illnesses

The cause: Million Dollar Smiles

Story continues below advertisement

A few years ago, Rob Nicolucci was talking to his cousin who told him about an innovative non-profit group called Million Dollar Smiles, which builds play structures for children facing life-threatening illnesses.

Mr. Nicolucci was intrigued and thought that getting involved with the group might be a good team-building exercise for his staff at RN Design Ltd., an architectural design company he founded based in Vaughan, Ont. “We talk about it at work and it’s really taken on a life of its own within our office,” Mr. Nicolucci recalled.

In the past four years, Mr. Nicolucci and a team of staff from RN have built five playgrounds for children across the Toronto area. The children and their families are selected by Million Dollar Smiles and a team of about 20 volunteers from RN spends a summer day building the playground in the family’s backyard. It’s usually a complete surprise for the child and RN covers the cost of each build. Mr. Nicolucci said the program has been so popular at RN and three affiliated companies that he’s now organizing two builds a year.

“You can’t even imagine the expression on some of these kids’ faces,” he said. “It’s tear-jerking because they are so happy.”

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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