We would like to thank our Toronto law firm partner, Aird & Berlis LLP, for their donation of one million air miles.  The Foundation is now able to better connect families across Canada.

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Thanks to a donation of one million air miles to the David Foster Foundation from Toronto-based law firm Aird & Berlis LLP last month, a young heart transplant patient and his uncle could fly home to Saint John, NB from Toronto’s Children’s Hospital where he had one of his regularly scheduled check ups, at no expense.  It is this type of innovative partnership that helps the David Foster Foundation keep families together when children are facing the urgent need for an organ transplant and ongoing check ups. Since 1986, the David Foster Foundation has assisted more than 800 families across Canada, providing millions of dollars in direct family support.

The Foundation’s financial commitment to families can be as high as $100,000. The average minimum cost to support a family is $10,000 a year. This support has ranged from a one time financial request to multiple years as children undergo regular check ups. And, research has shown that 85 per cent of families with children undergoing organ transplants will end up in bankruptcy and divorce if faced with this financial burden on their own.  When the partners of Aird & Berlis LLP first learned the story of the David Foster Foundation in 2012, it captured their hearts and their creativity. While they wanted to help, they wanted to do more than donate money.  “We were impressed with the immense need that the foundation was filling, as families face having to drop everything to support their child during a life threatening situation,” says Eldon Bennett, managing partner at Aird & Berlis LLP. “It is in our culture to look beyond immediate needs and focus on what will really make a sustainable difference.”

And, after learning that one of the significant hard costs for the foundation was flight expenses due to many families needing to travel far distances to receive specialized pediatric care, Aird & Berlis LLP, with its 140 lawyers doing business around the world, decided to donate one million air miles. These air miles complement a partnership the Foundation has with WestJet, which also provides flight passes. However some of the families live in communities not serviced by WestJet so the Foundation would have to purchase the flights directly.

“We want to keep families together during these stressful times, but to do so requires flights and flights are expensive, as there are only seven Canadian hospitals which specialize in pediatric organ transplants,” says Michael Ravenhill, CEO of the David Foster Foundation.  “To be able to offset a hard cost like this for so many of our families simply means we have more funds available to help pay day to day living expenses, like mortgages, food and out of town accommodation. It is a priceless gift.” Aird & Berlis LLP’s donation of air miles is actually just one part of the ongoing commitment to the Foundation.  Upon first discovering that the Foundation was in need of office space in downtown Toronto, Aird & Berlis LLP quickly offered to lend a hand.

Understanding how important a well appointed office, with administration support and meeting space is to building relationships, they offered to provide a fully furnished office, administration support and meeting space on an ongoing basis. The cost of the Bay Street address would have been far out of reach of the Foundation’s ability to invest in – especially as it is committed to keeping its hard costs to a minimum.  “When you combine this gift of flights along with the office space and support for our Toronto based team member, this partnership with Aird & Berlis LLP helps us take our fundraising to a whole new level,” says Ravenhill.