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FEATURE

Toronto's Top Benefits 2008

A Marilyn Monroe impersonator added Hollywood flair to the 2007 Look Good, Feel Better ball.

Photo: Courtesy of Look Good Feel Better

1. Bloor Street Entertains
With 23 exclusive boutiques in the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood hosting gourmet dinners, this annual fund-raiser for Canfar is the most prestigious benefit in the city. The 2007 event, which attracted 848 people, was marred by a bomb threat outside the Royal Ontario Museum, which led to the last-minute cancellation of the venue’s after-party. (Canfar staged an online auction in early December in an effort to raise additional funds.) The 2008 event will be held at the ROM on November 26.

2. One X One Gala
Richard Gere, Sarah Ferguson, and Wyclef Jean were on hand for the fourth annual gala at the Four Seasons Centre last September. The 2007 event, hosted by Matt Damon during the Toronto International Film Festival, raised more than $1 million in support of nonprofit organizations including H2O Africa, Healthy Kids International, and Right to Play. The 2008 gala will be held on September 7 at a to-be-determined venue.

3. Bell Celebrity Gala

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre hosted the annual benefit for the SickKids Foundation in October 2007. The star-studded gala, which featured a “Dorothy Goes Glam” theme that year, raised more than $1 million. Celebrities in attendance included NHL alumnus Bobby Orr, comedian Carla Collins, Olympic track-and-field star Donovan Bailey, and Grammy winner Alannah Myles. Details for the 2008 event have not been confirmed.

4. One Wish Gala
The Make-a-Wish Foundation created a Moroccan-themed benefit reminiscent of the Arabian Nights for its second annual fund-raiser in November 2007. More than 500 guests attended the event at the Carlu. The benefit raises money to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. The date and venue for the 2008 gala have not yet been determined.

5. Book Lover's Ball
The third annual benefit for the Toronto Public Library Foundation took place January 31 at the Fairmont Royal York. The event attracted more than 500 guests and 50 celebrity authors, including Katherine Govier, Kenneth Oppel, and Peter Robinson. CBC News at Six host Diana Swain served as M.C., and chefs Jamie Kennedy and David Garcelon prepared the meal. A novel-inspired fashion show followed the dinner.

6. Design Exchange Black-and-White Fund-Raising Gala
The museum honoured Canadian architectural icon Eb Zeidler and celebrated the 70th anniversary of the historic Toronto Stock Exchange—home to the Design Exchange since 1994—at 2007’s fund-raiser, entitled “Feel This.” The 2008 gala will take place on October 25.

7. Brazilian Carnival Ball

Toronto heats up on May 24 with the 42nd annual Brazilian Carnival Ball to benefit the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. The gala—which started in a small church basement in 1966—has raised more than $46 million to support initiatives in health care, research, culture, and education since its launch. The event, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, attracted some 1,800 guests last year. The 2008 benefit is dedicated to the memory of event founder Anna Maria de Souza, who passed away in September 2007.

8. Massive Party
The Art Gallery of Ontario’s ultimate art party took place at Muzik on April 10. Some 1,500 people attended the cutting-edge event, which featured contemporary art installations. This year's theme was “Vanities and Vandals,” with 10 artists showing off projects that included grafitti and pole dancing.

9. Pink Bedroom Party
Design house Jeanne Lottie hosts this annual fashion and lifestyle event at the Liberty Grand each October to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month. Created by Jeanne Lottie founder Jane Ip in 2001, the benefit attracts some 1,500 guests. The event—featuring a champagne reception, dinner, fashion show, live auction, and dance—supports the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital. The 2008 gala will be held on October 3 at the Liberty Grand.

10. Power Ball
The who’s who of Toronto’s arts and fashion scene celebrated the Power Plant Gallery’s 20th anniversary in 2007 at Power Ball 9. The event, titled “Revolution,” featured radical art installations and performances highlighting various revolutions—sexual, industrial, political, cyber, and design—and showcasing their connection to contemporary art. The 2008 gala is set for May 22.

11. Operanation
“La Dolce Vita” was the theme of the Canadian Opera Company’s annual benefit, held in the City Room of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in October 2007. The event, which attracted a crowd of 1,000 and raised $80,000, included a dinner, live auction, and performances by C.O.C. singers. The 2008 benefit will be held at the Four Seasons Centre in October.

12. Teddy Bear Affair

2007's black-tie benefit, which drew 1,100 people, raised a record-breaking $1.7 million for the Children’s Aid Foundation. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre was transformed into Teddy’s, a blues-themed supper club and lounge, for the 21st annual gala last fall. The 2008 event will take place on November 15 at the M.T.C.C.

13. Look Good, Feel Better Ball
Helping women face cancer and the effects of cancer treatment is the aim of the organization behind this annual black-tie fund-raiser at the Fairmont Royal York. The gala, founded in 1992, attracts more than 700 guests each year. More than $850,000 was raised at the Hollywood-themed event in 2007. This year’s ball is slated for November 22.

14. Crystal Ball
Organized by the Reach for the Rainbow Foundation in support of children with disabilities, the Crystal Ball is going into its 22nd year. The 2007 masquerade-themed black-tie event, which drew 1,400 guests, featured the largest silent auction in North America and an impromptu performance by Zach Warner. The event raised $1.2 million. Details for 2008 have not been confirmed.
 
15. Supergala
The Grocery Foundation and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada join forces to host one of the largest charity fund-raisers in the country each year. (The gala attracts more than 4,000 people.) The 2007 event netted more than $3 million, with the proceeds divided between the two foundations. The 2008 benefit, featuring a concert by Nelly Furtado, took place on February 2 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

16. Venetian Ball
The annual Venetian Ball in Vaughan has raised millions for the Villa Charities Foundation over the years, with the 2007 event, held at the Paramount Special Event Venue, bringing in more than $550,000. Billed as an authentic Italian celebration, the ball is designed to capture the mystery of the Venice Carnival. Details for the 2008 ball, marking the event’s 15th anniversary, have not been confirmed.

17. Leadership Sinai's Eyes Wide Open
Hosted by Leadership Sinai and chaired by Sebastien Centner of Eatertainment Special Events & Catering, the annual benefit for Mount Sinai Hospital, previously known as the Spring Ball, moved in a new direction for the 2008 gala on May 15. Organizers kept the location—This Is London—a secret until early spring. MTV Canada hosts Dan Levy and Jessi Cruickshank served as M.C.s for the evening, which also included celebrity DJ Sky Nellor.

18. Dragon Ball

More than 1,500 guests celebrated the arrival of the Chinese New Year at the 2007 Dragon Ball in support of the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care, raising $1 million for the facility. This year, event planner Henry Chiu of the Yee Hong Foundation created a “Discover China” theme for the 19th annual benefit on February 9 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

19. Ontario Science Centre Innovators' Ball
The second annual Innovators' Ball, dubbed Rock the Red Planet, takes place May 29. The sold-out event, inspired by the Ontario Science Centre's new feature exhibition “Facing Mars: Would You Survive the Journey?,” will feature a dinner prepared by renowned chef Susur Lee, the music of South Beach DJ Joe Dert, and performances by Wade O. Brown and Lindsay Ell.