TORONTO - A little slice of history was made in Canada Wednesday and sick children were the benefactors.
It came in the form of a $40-million gift donated to the Hospital for Sick Children by Peter Gilgan, the founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes.
His simple but expensive gesture was the largest single donation ever made to a Canadian pediatric hospital.
“It is my absolute pleasure to announce to you today a transformational gift of $40 million,” said Tim Hockey, president and CEO of TD Canada Trust, and SickKids campaign cabinet chair.
Gilgan shared centre stage with Hockey and received a standing ovation from the large crowd. The donation will go toward the new Centre for Research and Learning being built at the corner of Bay and Elm Sts.
“(I) really sincerely believe that any donation that’s given is going to be well shepherded and is going to really, really make a difference,” said Gilgan. “These people are serious about what they do, and the best in the world at doing it.”
Gilgan compared the research building to his company’s aim of not only building homes, but building communities.
He said researchers and scientists will now be running into each other in the hallways, allowing them to collectively generate new ideas toward children’s health issues.
“Peter, thanks to your vision and your extraordinary generosity, we’re now going to be able to take children’s health research to the next level, accelerate discoveries and train the next generation of clinicians and scientists,” said Dr. Janet Rossant, chief of research. “It’s really going to make a difference.”
The main issues to be studied in the centre are children’s cancers, obesity and concussions.
A former Sick Kids patient’s sister, Jillian Smith, was there to thank Gilgan as well.
Smith’s sister, Sarah, had a brain tumour when she was four years old and died four years later.
“I believe in the power of research, because I know that research allowed my sister Sarah to live as happily as she possibly could with her condition,” said Smith.
With Gilgan’s gift, Smith says, “other big sisters won’t have to say goodbye to their sisters and brothers.”
Prior to making this donation, Gilgan, who is a volunteer member of the campaign cabinet, raised more than $1.5 million for the hospital.
He jokingly pointed out the men wearing pinstripe suits, reminding them Hockey and himself were just getting started.
“Get your book out — we’ll be chasing you down,” he said, with a laugh.