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on the scene

Fondation Jeunes en Tête Valentine’s Day Ball, Feb. 16, Montreal

Fondation Jeunes en Tête, which works to prevent psychological distress among Quebec youth aged 11 to 18, came about in 2017 when Fondation Québec Jeunes and the Mental Illness Foundation (founded under the guidance of pre-eminent psychiatrist Yves Lamontagne) joined forces. The organization, which holds a variety of fundraisers each year, held the 19th edition of their splashiest event, the Valentine’s Day Ball, on Feb. 16 at Montreal’s Windsor Station. Some 600 guests were out, many dressed for the all-pink theme, together raising an impressive $742,000, a record-setting net sum for the gathering. The monies raised will underwrite the foundation’s various initiatives, namely online tools that young people in distress can access from their phones or laptops, as well as their marquee awareness-raising workshop, Partners for Life, which have been held in schools across the province free of charge for the past 22 years. In 2021-22 alone, nearly 40,000 young people took part. Among those out at this latest: TV host and producer Julie Snyder; businessman and philanthropist Paul Gaulin, an ex-officio member of the foundation’s board; Pierre Fitzgibbon, Member of the National Assembly of Quebec; gala co-chairs, Bombardier’s Ève Laurier and BCF Business Law’s Julie Doré; Nathalie Gagnon, also of BCF who chaired this year’s steering committee; and Mélanie Boucher, executive director of the foundation.

Dany Papadopoulos, Paul Gaulin, Peggy Charlton and Maryse Boyer.Christelle Coulombe/The Globe and Mail

Diane Lafontaine and Janie Béïque.Christelle Coulombe/The Globe and Mail

Geneviève Masse, Isabelle Éthier and Caroline Harbec.Christelle Coulombe/The Globe and Mail

Nathalie Gagnon and Marie-Claude Savard.Christelle Coulombe/The Globe and Mail

Gala co-chairs Ève Laurier and Julie Doré.Christelle Coulombe/The Globe and Mail

motionball in support of Special Olympics Canada Foundation, March 3, Toronto

A couple of weeks later in Toronto, the 21st edition of motionball, which raises funds for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation, was taking place. Since the late 1990s, the foundation has raised funds to support the work of the Canadian arm of Special Olympics, a movement founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver some 30 years earlier in the United States. Interestingly, the research that led to the idea was undertaken in Toronto by sport scientist Frank Hayden who was at the time studying the positive effect exercise had on children with intellectual disabilities. Hayden’s proposal for a national sport competition caught the attention of Kennedy Shriver, who helped set the foundation to grow Special Olympics into what it is today: the world’s largest sporting organization for those with intellectual and physical disabilities (there are nearly five million participants annually across 172 countries). This latest sold-out motionball gala saw a whopping 2,500 supporters, who together raised $250,000 for the cause. Olympian Tessa Virtue, television presenters Sid Seixeiro and Pooja Handa, Sean, Paul and Mark Etherington, who co-founded motionball and Glenn MacDonell, president and CEO of Special Olympics Ontario, were in attendance, and after-dinner performances by Dr. Draw, Cary Shields and Ari Reinoso were on offer.

Tessa Virtue and Ryan Colpitts, motionball’s 2023 Athlete of the Year and Special Olympics Ontario Ambassador.KENNEDY POLLARD/The Globe and Mail

Sean, Paul and Mark Etherington, co-founders of motionball.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

Brodie O’Brien, motionball presenting sponsor and Antoinette Robino.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

Glenn MacDonell, Aly Champsi and John Bryden.KENNEDY POLLARD/The Globe and Mail

Monique Shah, Special Olympics athlete.KENNEDY POLLARD/The Globe and Mail