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Deidre Lam, left, Yves Gadler and their son Andre are supporters of the Giant Steps school in Toronto.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The gift: Raising $90,000 and climbing

The cause: Giant Steps school in Toronto

Yves Gadler has worked in the non-profit sector for 25 years, raising money for hospitals, universities and museums. But when he and his wife, Deidre, enrolled their son Andre in a Toronto school for autistic children four years ago, they took on a personal fundraising mission.

The school, Giant Steps, helps children with autism build skills through academics and therapies. About 25 students attend Giant Steps, which also helps them integrate back into their local schools. Money for the many therapy programs comes from donations, and the school needs to raise as much as $500,000 annually.

The family have been among the school's top fundraisers, pulling in roughly $10,000 a year through events tied to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and even more money from personal donations and other activities – in total, about $90,000 in the past five years.

"Andre is 11 years old and he has really blossomed at the school," said Mr. Gadler, 53, who lives with his family in Toronto and is vice-president of development at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.

The fundraising has been challenging, but all the parents at the school join in. "This is a very different role for me and much more personal," Mr. Gadler said. "But it has been so gratifying."

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