The Luck of the Draw

Everyone Wins at Toronto’s Capital Connection’s Raffle

By Dana Ewachow

The reception for ACG’s (The Association for Corporate Growth) Capital Connection event took place in Ripley’s Aquarium in downtown Toronto on Tuesday November 11th. Capital Connection, where the best business leaders in North America mingle, sponsors one charitable organization each year; this year, Immunodeficiency Canada was the fortunate beneficiary. As a member of Immunodeficiency Canada, I helped set up our tables – one stacked with informative pamphlets for our cause, the other advertising the prizes for our raffle – on the bottom floor next to the Dangerous Lagoon. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see sharks circling in their tanks. In the other corner, I watched the business elite circle the reception, slick in grey and navy suits. I couldn’t help but be intimidated.

My anxiety disappeared when they approached our table with curiosity. They scoped our amazing selection of prizes: an iphone 6, dinner at Los Colibris, prime seats to sports games, a travel package worth $2000, and the ultimate prize of a one-year lease of a Porsche. Piqued by the possibility of a good deal and the taste of competition, they hovered by the raffle tickets. When we mentioned the money was for a good cause, the bottoms of the raffle bags started to fill. To no one’s surprise, the bag for the Porsche Cayman was the heaviest.

The enthusiasm was just as palpable on the second day of Capital Connection. The event moved from under the sea to the vast space of the Allstream Centre. The rooms were filled with networking ACG members, who would disappear every hour or so for a new presentation. The conference was hosted by Jessi Cruickshank, best known as the host of CBC’s Canada’s Smartest Person and MTV Canada’s The Hills After Show. Keynote speakers included the award winning psychology professor Dr. Brian Little and president of Un-Marketing Scott Stratten. Stratten stood out as a speaker because of his unconventional attitude, along with the fact that he was the only person with a beard and jeans in the entire building.

Immunodeficiency Canada’s booth stood amongst the exhibition tables, watching as the members shook hands and bonded with people from across the continent. We sat at our booth, selling tickets and raising awareness, happy for the exposure. The credit for our exposure goes to Darin Brock of TorQuest Partners, who is the Conference Co-Chair and the one who chose Immunodeficiency Canada as the event’s beneficiary. Brock had heard of the condition due to his wife being a geneticist and his father-in-law being an immunologist. He chose the charity because the average person does not even know what P.I (primary immunodeficiency) is, so the cause could gain a lot from such a prestigious event.

Primary Immunodeficiency is an umbrella term for more than 250 genetic disorders that indicate a defective or non-existent immune system. On average 1 of every 1,200 individuals is affected by primary immunodeficiency. The lack of awareness is a major issue of the condition since 70% Canadians suffering from P.I are undiagnosed. Immunodeficiency Canada supports education on the condition, research in the field, and support for patients suffering from the condition. The organization also has The Alastair Fund, which gives financial aid to families with children affected with P.I who need to cover non-medical costs like accommodation and travel fees. For example, children can take several months to recover from a bone marrow transplant and many families have trouble affording accommodation for such an extended period of time.

Brock emphasizes Capital Connection’s need for a charitable beneficiary. The generosity is an essential part of his firm’s culture that he wishes to share with other members of the business community: “I feel like it’s our duty as an association to do this.” He confesses that he is aware that members of the financial community are well compensated for their work, so charitable donations can and should be encouraged. The charity of the association breaks the stereotype of the financial industry being selfishly motivated. The move shows that those who are rich in income can also be rich in benevolence. Brock’s positivity about the subject holds strong: “Everyone should feel it’s in their right to donate.”

By the end of the conference, lucky individuals won their respective prizes. Immunodeficiency Canada spread awareness to over 500 business professionals over the course of two events. The raffle raised just over $4,000 from ticket sales. Thanks to the choice of Capital Connection and the generous spirits of their members, the raffle raised a significant amount of money for our cause. Someone may have won a lease of a Porsche, but we feel just as lucky.

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