By Susan O'Neill Posted October 18, 2010, 4:30 PM EDT
TORONTO For the 19th annual Bell Celebrity Gala—which marked the first year in a five-year funding commitment to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health—Patricia Lakin, Bell's national director of special events, and her team adopted a nature theme to symbolize the new partnership. “We want to reflect C.A.M.H.'s philosophy of transformation and empowerment, so we chose nature, as it symbolizes rebirth, growth, and transformation. By capturing these visuals, we will take guests on a journey through the natural environment of lush English gardens,” said Jason Laszlo of Bell media relations.
The benefit, held Thursday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, attracted 2,000 guests, including 100 Canadian celebrities, like Olympian Clara Hughes, singer Sass Jordan, and model Coco Rocha.
Guests walked a white carpet, and posed for photos in front of a step-and-repeat bearing the Bell logo, prior to crossing a faux stone bridge to enter the reception area, where a carousel sat in the centre of the room. A series of topiary trees, carved to look like deer and bears, surrounded an ice sculpture at the entrance to the reception space. Inside the space, there was a silent auction, with items arranged in categories like “Electronics and Leisure,” “Travel and Entertainment,” and “Sporting Goods.”
To enter the dining room, guests passed through an iron gate and walked a green carpet flanked by tall glass tubes filled with branches. Solutions With Impact dressed the space, using plush brown chair covers and green linens to top tables. Mandell Entertainment Group designed the massive stage (with a backdrop designed to look like a garden wall), which had two runways that jut out into the audience.
The evening's entertainment included a fashion showcase presented by BlackBerry and performances by the likes of Josh Logan, Jully Black, Kreesha Turner, Faber Drive, Aleesia, Fefe Dobson, and Down With Webster. Comedian Russell Peters and sports broadcaster Rod Black hosted the event. Kardinal Offishall performed at the BMO After-Party, held in a room just off the reception area.
“We leverage our relationships,” Laszlo said of the event. “We take the gala seriously and the charitable direction seriously. It speaks for itself.” The event raised $580,000 for the centre, which Bell matched, for a total donation of $1.16 million. The gala’s commitment to C.A.M.H. is a cornerstone of the Bell Mental Health Initiative, a multiyear national charitable program announced in September.
Event sponsors included Samsung, BMO, Blakes, CGI, Fujitsu, Huawei, I.B.M., LG, VMC, Research in Motion, The Globe and Mail, and CTV.