Skip to main content

The late Robert van Kessel, right, played host to thousands at his Rib ‘n’ Roll fundraisers, including former NHL player Andy Bathgate.

The Donor: Robert van Kessel

The Gift: Raising $350,000 and climbing

The Cause: Tour for Kids and Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation

Story continues below advertisement

The Reason: To help children with cancer

Rob van Kessel enjoyed an extraordinary career as a lawyer in Brampton, Ont., writing five textbooks that are frequently cited by judges in their rulings. But his real passion was raising money for charities that help children with cancer.

Mr. van Kessel started with a fundraising event in Brampton in 1999, through his Rotary Club. By 2004, it had turned into a three-day extravaganza called Rib 'n' Roll, with bands, food – notably ribs – and in-line skating.

The annual festival attracts about 20,000 participants each May and marks the unofficial beginning of summer in the city. It has raised about $350,000 so far and the money goes to two charities: Tour for Kids and Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, which help children living with cancer.

A few years ago, Mr. van Kessel began his own battle with brain cancer. He died in 2012 at the age of 52, leaving his wife, Maria, and three sons.

"Rob made this an event that people wanted to be a part of," said Brad Goodison, a Rotary member who now chairs the event, which he considers Mr. van Kessel's legacy. "He was just very calm, a voice of reason and compassion."

Added Mr. van Kessel's sister, Inge Trembly: "I live in Nova Scotia and until Robert died, I had no idea what a huge event this had become. I am incredibly proud."

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨