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Thrill of Ascot in support of Best Buddies Canada, Toronto

The most prestigious of horse races at Royal Ascot each year is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which runs the famous course in Berkshire, England, in early July. Ascot fever is now felt the world over, with trackside fascinator- and frilly-frock-filled events popping up all summer long. For the past 12 years, Best Buddies Canada has raise more than $2.4-million at its annual horsey to-do: Thrill of Ascot, held at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. This year’s daytime fundraiser on June 2 raised an impressive $515,000, which will support Best Buddies Canada’s effort to foster friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization was founded stateside in 1989 by American “royal” Anthony Kennedy Shriver and now boasts 50 thriving chapters internationally. The Canadian division was founded in 1993 by Penny Shore and Daniel Greenglass, who chaired this latest event alongside Rene Pantalone.

Canucks Autism Network Reveal Gala, Vancouver

The following week on the West Coast, the hockey set was out en masse for the annual Reveal Gala, which raises funds for the Canucks Autism Network, an organization that provides year-round sport and recreation programs for children and young adults living with autism in communities across British Columbia. CAN, as it’s called, was founded in 2008 by Vancouver Canucks co-owners Paolo and Clara Aquilini, whose son is on the autism spectrum.

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Money raised at this latest gala, held June 9, at Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks, surpassed the $1-million mark. The 66 sold-out tables of 10 that dotted the arena represented the one in 66 children in Canada on the autism spectrum. As in years past, musical performances played a part in the evening’s success: This year, Lola Lennox, daughter of British legend Annie, performed, and was joined on-stage by Dylan Okimaw, a 13-year-old boy from Kelowna, B.C., who has autism.

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