Chris Read Plan Canada GOAT

Be The G.O.A.T. By Giving The Gift Of … A Goat!

It occurred to me recently, that with the hectic schedule we have been keeping, I hadn’t been budgeting in time to continue teaching the kids about the importance of giving back. We are so blessed with the ability to put our kids in the sports they want and to not worry about things like not having food on the table, that it’s easy to forget that not everyone is so fortunate.

After learning about Plan International Canada’s Gifts of Hope program and looking through the various gifts with my kids, I decided that this would be my ask for Father’s Day this year. My ultimate hope is to set an example for my kids in showing them that providing a gift for someone else can be a gift in itself.

Plan International Canada is a global children’s rights and gender equality organization, and the Gifts of Hope are not symbolic, they make a real difference. The gift you choose is the gift someone will physically receive. For instance, the $75 for a goat goes directly to a goat program that purchases goats and provides training in raising and breeding goats in countries like Cameroon. Not surprisingly, the gift of a goat was my kids’ favourite option.

While there are more than 50 gifts to choose from in the Gifts of Hope catalogue, there was one that stood out above the rest for me. Strong Dad, Strong Family helps facilitate community fathers’ groups, where men can meet to learn and talk about such topics as maternal, newborn and child health, sexual and reproductive health including family planning, and men’s roles in these areas. There could be no better gift this Father’s Day than to help other dads around the globe!

It doesn’t take much to have a huge impact and with gifts starting at just $10, there’s something for every type of budget. Please take a moment to check out the Gifts of Hope catalogue and take a minute to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All-Time) for someone who truly needs it!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Plan Canada.

A Father’s Gift

There are a number of reasons why this short film hit me so hard and maybe someday I’ll get into them on here. In the meantime, enjoy this incredible story and the slew of messages it dishes out.

Keep Holding On & Support Women’s Healthcare ~ #WCHFRaiseUrVoice

Just because Movember is over, doesn’t mean it’s time to pack it in the good deeds for another year. That’s why I am happy to be working with the Women’s College Hospital Foundation in spreading the word about their new initiative!

Women’s College Hospital Foundation has teamed up with Canadian singing sensation, Avril Lavigne, to create a cover of her hit song, “Keep Holding On”, featuring the voices of Canadians from across the country. The remixed song has been released on iTunes, and the proceeds from every download go toward supporting Women’s College Hospital and the future of healthcare for women.

I downloaded the song myself this afternoon and haven’t been able to stop listening to it. It gives me that goose bumpy feeling every time the chorus of voices kicks in, and to know that it is also helping women in need is extra gratifying. The song only costs $1.29 and every single download helps support an amazing cause, so I hope you will head over to iTunes and purchase a copy today!

About Women’s College Hospital Foundation

Women’s College Hospital Foundation is dedicated to supporting Women’s College Hospital as it revolutionizes health care for women. The first stand alone ambulatory care hospital in Canada, Women’s College Hospital is dedicated to advancing the health of women and improving health-care options for all.

Working together with patients, family members, staff, physicians, volunteers, community members and corporations, we raise, manage and invest funds to support the Hospital’s current and future priority needs. Our donors contribute generously to help build our new hospital of the future, advance research and pioneer state-of-the-art programs that address the unique needs of women and their families.

Disclosure: I was compensated by Entrinsic for my participation in this program, but the song, Avril and the cause are all amazing.

Introducing The Amazing People Gala!

As this blog continues to grow and find it’s identity, I am learning more and more that I have the ability to make small impacts in people’s lives and it is something that brings me great joy. I recently attended the launch event for something called the Amazing People Gala and now feel the need to share about it.

I had no idea what this gala was all about, but after watching a few of the videos from the previous year’s event, I had a feeling that it was going to have a positive impact on me and I couldn’t have been more right! The Amazing People Gala is pretty much exactly what it sounds like but with a charitable twist. Last year’s gala honoured almost 50 Amazing People and raised enough money to build not only one, but two schools in Nicaragua, through local charity, SchoolBOX.

About SchoolBOX

SchoolBOX is an Ottawa Valley charity, based in Almonte,  that has built 44 classrooms to date in Central America for children in horrific poverty. The power of education is the focus. It started when the founder, Tom Affleck of Almonte, gave a Nicaraguan child a pencil and notebook, the only tools she needed to attend school.

Since 2006, SchoolBOX has accomplished the following (As per October 30, 2013):

  • 49 classrooms built
  • 2 classrooms with major renovations and overhauls
  • 63,249 education packages delivered to students and teachers
  • 349 International Volunteers
  • 15 Mini Libraries created
  • 13 Soccer Dreams Tournaments

About The Gala

The launch from this year’s Amazing People Gala left me speechless, and inspired by all the honourees and volunteers. I love that they are featuring local Amazing People and shining a light on everything that is good in our community. The Gala takes place on February 22, 2014 at the Ottawa Convention Centre and tickets are available by visiting the Amazing People Gala’s Page. Based solely on what I’ve seen so far, I can pretty much guarantee that you will leave this event more inspired than you could ever imagine.

Always A Humbling Experience At ‘The Gil’

Pictured above are the Lake Simcoe Lightning fastball team, who also happen to be the champions of the 6th Annual Gil Read Memorial Fastball Tournament held this past weekend. This year’s edition of the tournament was by far the best we’ve ever had and I couldn’t be happier with the direction it is trending in.

I’m always left humbled by the end of tournament weekend by all of the hard work that people put into making it a success. Not only is it a testament to the memory of my father but in a world where social media magnifies all the bad, it’s nice to see so many people who are coming together to do something good for the kids. From volunteers pulling 8 hour shifts and off duty doctors tending to injured athletes, to bartender volunteers staying until 1am and locals lending us their BBQ when ours breaks down, I am always left amazed at the amazing community of people this tournament has supporting it.

Our corporate sponsors give year after year without so much as a follow up email, with some of them even offering money before we ask for it. We are endlessly appreciative to companies like Rebel Tents, Play It Again Sports, Logs End, Cabotto’s Dining Lounge and Broker 4 Tickets, who give up their hard earned money so that we can continue to put on this event and provide funding for the kids. These companies understand what we are trying to do and it creates a family atmosphere instead of a business one, which is truly amazing. There are so many more and they will get their love in due time.

We started this thing 6 years ago with no idea what it was going to look like and now we not only have a flourishing tournament, that hit it’s 12 team goal for the first time, but we’ve also been able to raise enough money to help a lot of kids who otherwise would not have been able to compete in organized sport. I am proud of the work we are doing, humbled by the amount of help we are offered and I know my Dad would have loved every second of this tournament and initiative.

Thank you to everyone who showed up, helped out, sponsored, played, spent your hard earned money, tweeted, shared, laughed and cried (okay, that was just me) at the Gil Read Memorial Tournament this year. Without you, none of this would be possible and we wouldn’t be able to provide for these kids who just want to have the same opportunity that their friends have.


My Favourite Part Is When Our Kids Give Out The Trophy!

My Favourite Part Is When Our Kids Give Out The Trophy!

Canadian Spotlight – Todd Churchill’s Charity Rink Of Dreams For Carter

Todd Churchill Rink for Carter

I came across this story on the CBC website and it was too amazing to not write about. Todd Churchill lives in Portugal Cove – St. Philips, NL with his wife Kimberly and their two sons Hunter and Carter. His youngest son, Carter, was diagnosed as profoundly deaf in December 2011 and then subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy in January 2012.

Since that time, Todd and his wife Kimberly have become very active in various fundraising efforts for local charities and non-profit organizations associated with or helping with their son Carter’s condition. This past July, they both participated in Easter Seals’ Drop Zone event in St. John’s and personally raised over $8,000 dollars.

Todd then decided that the logical next step would be to build an outdoor rink. This, however, was not just going to be any outdoor rink. Todd had a dream of designing and building a 95’ x 46’ outdoor ice hockey rink in his backyard, complete with boards, painted lines, nets, lighting, etc. His goal was to sell ad space on the boards and also on the ice surface, just like an NHL rink, with the proceeds going to support the three charities that have helped and continue to help his family the most. Those charities are:

1. The Easter Seals of Newfoundland & Labrador
2. Rainbow Riders
3. Mazol Shriners

I’ve included links to the donation pages of all three in case you are compelled to contribute. Todd’s got a website all set up that lists all the amazing sponsors, supporters and news about the rink and his family’s charitable efforts. The website is called Reason For The Rink and I hope you’ll stop in to check it out. I was also fortunate enough to interview Todd for this feature and here is what he had to say.

CD: Where did you get the idea to do this? It’s quite brilliant!

Todd: I received a photo of a similar, albeit smaller, rink done out in western Canada and I always wanted to do one as a personal challenge being an engineer. When my son was born and was diagnosed as deaf and with CP, my wife and I became very proactive in organizations dedicated to assisting children like Carter, namely Easter Seals NL, Rainbow Riders and Mazol Shriners. We both participated in the Easter Seals NL Drop Zone event (9 storey rappel) in July, personally raising over $8,000. As a result, I was invited to participate in the Easter Seals Toronto Drop Zone (17 storey’s). There are links to videos of both events on my website under “Other Fundraising Efforts“. My wife has a small home business called Carter’s Cupcakes, which makes cakes and cupcakes with 25% of the profits going to children’s charities associated with Carter. I started my rink as both a fundraiser and a way of increasing awareness of these organizations which I myself had no awareness of prior to Carter being born.

CD: Was the rink a community project or more of a solo effort?

Todd: It was a solo project that I started planning last winter but actually physically started in June building a prototype corner and straight section to work the bugs out of my design.

CD: Now that the rink is built, what are your goals for it? Will there be more fundraising or is it a community rink?

Todd: I am going to have to some fundraisers for people at work. I am currently working on the Hebron project here in NL so I am going to have a hockey tournament for employees of the major companies, ie. ExxonMobil, WorleyParsons, KCAD and Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors. I have also been receiving a lot of offers to rent ice time with proceeds going to charity.

CD: How difficult was it to sell the ad space?

Todd: It was slow going at first as companies didn’t really know what to make of what I was doing. Some companies jumped right on board, while others needed some convincing and others never responded at all. After I launched my website, I had more demand than available spaces so City Honda here in St. John’s offered $1,000 for an in ice ad, which is something I never considered before. I was only going to have the charity logos in the ice, but I could not turn down that type of donation. Provincial Airlines, ExxonMobil (Hebron Project) and Ranstar* soon followed and took the remaining three in ice logos for $1000 as well. I have now raised over $16,700 to date.

Rink BoardsRink DrawingRink Frame






This was such a great story and I was so glad to be able to speak with Todd about it. For more information about Todd’s charity rink or on how you can donate, you can visit his website, Reason For The Rink, and you can follow him on Twitter @Reason4TheRink.

I wanted to leave you with one last look at the finished product. Admittedly, this photo makes me want to hop on a plane and fly out to Newfoundland to take a lap on the ice. So, if anyone has an extra plane ticket to Newfoundland… Yeah, didn’t think so! I want to thank Todd Churchill for the interview and also for being an Awesome Dad and human being, along with his entire family. Keep up the great work!

Churchill Rink Night


Here’s A Double Shot Of Business Awesome!

I’ve always appreciated excellent service and ethical, client centered business practices. That said, it wasn’t until I went to one of the presentations for Scott Stratten’s, “Book of Business Awesome”, that I truly understood the value of sharing some of the everyday, cool things that some businesses do for us, as consumers. I want to share one of those stories today.

While wasting my life away doing blog research on Facebook recently, I noticed a status update from my friends at Mabel’s Labels. It was a letter from one of their customers, that read as follows:

“Dear Mabel, Last week my car got broken into. Sadly our GPS and my son’s hockey bag were taken. I was sad to tell my son about it. It takes a lot of time effort and money to gather all the items for hockey equipment. My husband and my son decided to go to a second hand store called Play it Again Sports to find some new equipment. When my son tried on a neck guard, what does he see: Yes! his name on it with your label. He points this out to the store owner and tells him the story of the loss. They were able to find all his equipment and they returned it without charge. To top it all off, the store owner caught the thief on his video camera, gave us a copy and we were able to give it to the police.”

Pretty awesome, right? I realize that by returning the boy’s equipment, “free of charge”, the owner did the right thing and probably what was expected of him, but this is where I get to add an extra dash of awesome to the story. You see, I help run a charity called, The Gil Read Memorial Foundation, named after my father. Our goal is to provide monetary assistance to children who can’t afford to compete in sports. This includes equipment, registration and other costs associated with playing a sport.

When I approached Play It Again Sports about becoming our official supplier of sports equipment for the charity, not only did they agree immediately but they also offered a generous discount to all the families we sent in. I can’t say enough good things about this company and the people they have working there. On top of all of that, their Regional Manager, Rob Lavoie, was an integral member of our Movember team that helped raise over $12,400 this past month.

Keep up the excellent work, guys! You make our community a better place to live and I appreciate it! I’d also like to thank the awesome people at Mabel’s Labels for sharing this story. It’s nice to read about the positive, inspirational stuff every now and then. Plus, you know, your labels are awesome and clearly help catch criminals!


Canadian Spotlight: The Ottawa Children’s Gala

This past week, I had the pleasure of meeting Spencer Warren, and we got to talking about a huge event he puts on every year. The event is called The Ottawa Children’s Gala and it is being held in support of CHEO’s “Plan-It Safe” program.

The Ottawa Children’s Gala is a formal gala, which is filled with entertainment for adults and children. The event, held in the Grand Ballroom at the Hampton Inn Ottawa, will have a red carpet, complete with a professional photographer, a classy meal, exciting entertainment and a dance.

The doors will open at 4pm on February 16th, 2013, where you can enjoy a cocktail with ambient music from Kimberley Dunn. Walk down the red carpet to have your photo taken with your family, get your face painted and enjoy the evening with performances by ‘Orpheus’, Kimberley Dunn, Brothers Dube, Pulse N’Limited and many more acts. The Gala will be hosted by the CTV Morning Show’s Lianne Laing.

The longer we talked about the Gala, the more excited I was for it to actually get here. Spencer assured me that the tickets will sell out, so if you are interested in attending, I suggest you head over to the Ottawa Children’s Gala Website soon, to stay on top of the info. You can also skip right to the ordering tickets part by Clicking Here!

This promises to be a great time for the whole family and it also supports a great cause in CHEO’s Plan-It Safe program. For updates on the Ottawa Children’s Gala, you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime, check out this great video from last year’s Gala, so you can see what it’s all about. Hope to see you there!

More About CHEO’s “Plan-It Safe” Program

Corrine Langill and her team are dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries in our city. Their mission is to increase local capacity, strengthen public policy, ensure effective programming and advocate for the creation of safe environments to reduce the toll injuries take on children and youth in our communities. The Centre works in collaboration with many of the community partners who deliver injury prevention programming. Its core competencies are injury surveillance, research and program evaluation, consultation on program planning, implementation and evaluation, advocacy and professional and public education.