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Gala raises $3.5M for Southlake's Stronach Regional Cancer Centre

Event also kickstarted a $20-million cancer centre campaign, which has now raised more than $10.5 million
More than 800 people attended the Here and Now Gala at the Universal EventSpace in Vaughan.

Southlake Foundation’s Here and Now Gala — its most successful to date — raised more than $3.5 million to support the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre and launched its $20-million campaign, HERE is Where Cancer Meets its Match.

More than 800 supporters, leaders, and patrons attended the evening of philanthropy and celebration Oct. 22 in Vaughan.

“We are so grateful for all those who came together with purpose and compassion to champion cancer care, close to home,” said Arden Krystal, president and CEO of Southlake Regional Health Centre, in a news release. “The Stronach Regional Cancer Centre at Southlake is here today thanks to the steadfast dedication and support of Southlake’s physicians, nurses, staff and caring community of donors and volunteers.”

The gala’s success catapulted the HERE is Where Cancer Meets its Match funds raised to exceed $10.5 million, more than halfway to the $20-million campaign goal, according to the foundation. The campaign has received lead gifts from Magna International, The Powell Group of Companies, and Fastfrate Group through Audrey's Place Foundation, and Peter and Teresa van Schaik.

“Reaching the halfway milestone of our campaign is extraordinary,” said Jennifer Ritter, president and CEO of Southlake Foundation. “The life-saving and life-changing care that happens every day at Southlake’s Stronach Regional Cancer Centre is a testament to our communities’ powerful support.”

MCs sports broadcaster Rod Black and television personality, journalist and philanthropist Joan Kelley Walker — both residents of Southlake’s catchment inspired the gala audience with stories of their families’ experiences with cancer.

Visionary philanthropic leaders, Frank Stronach, the van Schaik family, and Bahen Chant family were celebrated, alongside Magna International, for their role in making the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre a reality. More than 10 years ago, their transformative gifts inspired the community to raise nearly $65 million, ensuring access to regional life-saving cancer care close to home.

However, the local communities are among the fastest growing and aging in the province, and technology continues to advance care, according to the hospital.

Chief of surgery and surgical oncologist Dr. Sara Temple told attendees that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients delayed seeking medical attention. More advanced cancer diagnosis, coupled with an expanding and aging population, amounts to rapidly rising needs for cancer care, she said.

“Two out of five Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime,” Temple said. “I spend a lot of time giving people a cancer diagnosis and walking them through their treatment plan. Almost every patient asks, 'Can I have my treatment here or do I have to go somewhere else?' The relief they feel when they know they can get their care here is palpable. And I am so glad we can make their cancer journey a little easier.”

A two-time cancer survivor before turning 40, Jamie Pimek shared his gratitude to the donors who support the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre, where he was able to receive treatment close to home.

Southlake wants to double the number of systemic therapy (chemotherapy) chairs from 23 to 42. During the evening’s live auction, 13 new systemic therapy chairs and ancillary equipment were funded thanks to the generosity of gala guests.

Gifts to the campaign can be made here.

Quick facts

Cancer care at Southlake

  • Since opening its doors in 2010, more than 737,254 care visits have taken place at the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre.
  • Since 2001, its communities have grown at nearly twice the rate as the provincial average.
  • Demand for care is also driven by the impact of deferred care due to COVID-19. Many people missed regular screening and medical attention. When they finally arrive at Southlake, their cancer is more complex and has progressed, requiring greater intervention and care, placing further demand on the cancer centre.
  • The Stronach Regional Cancer Centre at Southlake is consistently ranked among the top three in the province and is the first hospital to be invited to join the Princess Margaret Cancer Care Network earlier this year.

Here is Where Cancer Meets its Match campaign

  • Southlake Foundation is raising $20-million to expand the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre’s capacity, improve wait times, and upgrade to state-of-the-art technology to keep care close to home.
  • Here is Where Cancer Meets its Match Campaign will:
    • Bring the first PET-CT to our region to expedite diagnosis and support personalized treatment.
    • Expand the radiation therapy program with new technology by replacing the original linear accelerators and adding a fifth machine to treat 400 more patients a year.
    • Expand the systemic therapy program for chemotherapy treatment to more than 870 more patients annually.
    • Expand outpatient care for acute leukemia patients so the most vulnerable don’t have to travel downtown for supportive care.
    • Replace Southlake’s MRI, which is at end of its service life, to process 8,000 scans a year.


Debora Kelly

About the Author: Debora Kelly

Debora Kelly is NewmarketToday's editor. She is an award-winning journalist and communications professional who is passionate about building strong communities through engagement, advocacy and partnership.
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