Toronto (Oct. 26, 2007) - The Toronto Rehab Foundation today officially announced two seven-figure gifts in support of its Everything Humanly Possible: The Campaign for Toronto Rehab. The campaign's $5 million landmark donation is one of the largest known single donations ever made to an adult rehabilitation facility in Canada. The announcement marks the public launch of the hospital's $60 million fundraising campaign.

The $5 million donation by philanthropist, Judith Ryrie (Billie) Wilder, marks a lifetime of involvement and support of Toronto Rehab and is the largest personal donation ever made to the hospital. Both Mrs. Wilder and her father, Edward William (E.W.) Bickle, served in senior leadership positions on the Board of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital - one of Toronto Rehab's predecessor hospitals - for a total of 35 years. Mrs. Wilder's gift will honour her father with the renaming of Toronto Rehab's Queen Elizabeth site at 130 Dunn Ave. to The E.W. Bickle Centre for Complex Continuing Care.

The other donation announced today is from David Kerr, director and past Chair of the Toronto Rehab Foundation, and his wife Sheryl. Their gift of $1 million was the first seven-figure leadership gift of the campaign. The Kerrs' donation sent a powerful call-to-action to others who share their altruistic spirit to improve the quality of life of people recovering from and living with disabling illness or injury.

The Kerr and Wilder donations stem from five years of working to develop relationships with influential community and business leaders.

"Our enviable team of community leaders, who bring influence and impact to our efforts, are extremely committed to Toronto Rehab. They have tirelessly acted as our ambassadors telling the Toronto Rehab story with passion, opening doors, and creating strong relationships with community builders," says Barbara Stymiest, Chief Operating Officer, RBC Financial Group and sole Chair of the hospital's Everything Humanly Possible: The Campaign for Toronto Rehab.

"The Foundation's Campaign Cabinet, under the leadership of Barb Stymiest, has been outstanding in its efforts to secure the funds the hospital needs to upgrade our aging facilities to better serve the health care needs of our communities, and to build the infrastructure we need to conduct ground-breaking research and provide innovative education programs," says Mark Rochon, President and CEO of Toronto Rehab. "We are confident that they will be equally successful raising the remaining $15 million needed to complete our campaign."

"Sixty million dollars is an unprecedented fundraising goal in support of rehabilitation in Canada," says Sheila Hicks, President, Toronto Rehab Foundation. "It's time to ask the community to support Toronto Rehab's vision to be a world leader in rehabilitation. It's also time to applaud our incredible team of volunteers, salute our donors, and celebrate their contributions,"

Jack Geller, former Acting Chair of the Ontario Securities Commission, former Toronto Rehab patient and a stroke survivor, knows first hand about the health and emotional challenges of recovery. Mr. Geller suffered a massive stroke that left him with aphasia, an inability to use or understand language (spoken or written). With the help of Toronto Rehab's Neuro Rehabilitation Program, Mr. Geller met all of his rehabilitation goals.

"Despite experiencing a devastating stroke five years ago, I'm enjoying life. I'm walking, talking, and reading again and rediscovering the joy in these things that we so easily take for granted," says Mr. Geller.

Everything Humanly Possible: The Campaign for Toronto Rehab is the first major fundraising campaign for the hospital since its creation in 1998. Toronto Rehab aspires to be an international leader in rehabilitation services and research and the hospital's $60 million campaign is critical to its capital redevelopment. Although major capital projects are, in large part, funded by the provincial government, the Foundation has an important role to play in helping Toronto Rehab raise its share of the total cost.

Over 3.6 million (about one in eight) Canadians have a significant disability. This number is expected to rise considerably in the next decade as Canada's population ages. The demand for rehabilitation services will also grow and with it the need to develop new and more effective treatments, and assistive devices and technologies to support people with disabilities and people as they age.

In anticipation of this need, Toronto Rehab facilities will undergo an unprecedented multi-million dollar transformation in the next four years. Elements of the project supported by the campaign include: the expansion and renovation of the hospital's University Centre; the creation of iDAPT, a world-class centre for research and discovery; five endowed research chairs to further enhance research capacity; and major renovations to the hospital's Lyndhurst Centre, home to Toronto Rehab's Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program, to make that facility more accessible and conducive for a range of specialized out-patient services.

About Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

Toronto Rehab is at the forefront of one of the most important and emerging frontiers in health care today - rehabilitation science. Toronto Rehab is one of Canada's leading academic rehabilitation science centres providing adult rehabilitation services, complex continuing care, and long-term care. Find more information on Toronto Rehab's iDAPT.

Media Contact

Phone: 416 340 4636
Email: UHN.News@uhn.ca

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