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A mustachioed Burton Cummings looks on as Lorne Swartz speaks to crowd at a Bridle Bash Foundation fundraiser, where the singer performed.

The Donors: Lorne Swartz and friends

The Gift: $5-million and climbing

The Cause: Various health care groups

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A few years ago, Lorne Swartz and some friends started talking about philanthropy and how to teach their young children the importance of giving.

"We wanted to show them that the easiest thing in life is to write a cheque, the hardest thing is to actually donate your time and do something for somebody," said Mr. Swartz, president of Scout Logistics Corp., a Toronto-based transportation company.

The group organized a giant charity ball-hockey tournament and other sporting events. They raised about $1-million and donated the proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society. They eventually created a charitable foundation to formalize the effort and launch an even more ambitious fundraiser – a massive party at Mr. Swartz's home in Toronto's exclusive Bridle Path neighbourhood.

Dubbed the Bridle Bash, the party attracts more than 1,000 guests and has featured performers such as Burton Cummings. Everything is donated and all the money raised, as much as $600,000 per event, goes toward various health care projects. The party is held every two years (there have been four so far) and Mr. Swartz and the foundation, called the Bridle Bash Foundation, are in the process of organizing the next one.

The group still holds a softball tournament and is developing a cook book with proceeds from sales going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. So far the Bridle Bash charity has raised about $5-million in total and has supported projects at more than 20 not-for-profit organizations. "We look for charities that need the money and are going to use the money right away," Mr. Swartz said.

The entire effort is driven by close friends who have stayed together for years, he note. "We're a group of friends, about 40 of us, who grew up together and are actually still friends," he said with a laugh. The foundation, "is one of those labours of love."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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Editor's note: The charity was misidentified in a previous version of this story. This version has been corrected.

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