Thursday, 20 June 2013

Have You Ever Been to Paddle Royale? Big Brothers and Sisters Toronto 2012 Inaugural Event!

Accompanied by the Men's Final Gold Medal Game at the 2012 Olympics! Just to learn some tips ;)
Hey All!!!

This was an article I wrote for the Big Brothers and Sisters of Toronto inaugural event last year called Paddle Royale. It didn't end up getting published in the magazine for one reason or another so I thought I would put it on my blog as the second annual Paddle Royale is coming up August 22, 2013!! Team registrations are filling up so if you're interested in attending this super fun event, get on it! See link below :)

On September 13th, 2012, the Big Brothers and Sisters of Toronto (BBBST) Young Leader’s (YL) kicked off their inaugural event, Paddle Royale, at SPiN Toronto in the heart of downtown Toronto. The council, which formed this past year, is comprised of 17 dedicated young professionals between the ages of 20 and 35 who want to make a difference in the city.  Their goals are to raise awareness of the organization with hopes to “recruit new volunteers, fundraise, and spread the word of Big Brothers and Sisters of Toronto”, says co-chair of the YL’s and Big Brother himself, Michael Boynton. Currently there are 250 kids on the waiting list, still needing to be matched with a big brother or sister. 

Whilst taking a year to organize, Paddle Royale, “a glow- in-the-dark (themed) ping-pong party” (combining a glow-in-the-dark party with a round-robin ping-pong tournament) came to fruition after many proposals were presented between the three different committees within the council - Events, Finance and Operations, and Communications and Media. The game of ping-pong has been making a comeback within the social scene these past few years and SPiN Toronto has become a popular spot for the young professionals to gather for a night on the town. Those factors combined created a perfect event idea to generate opportunities for networking, bring about awareness regarding the BBBST, and more importantly create the opportunity to bring teams of people together to pledge for donations.

Auction Table 
One major challenge the YL’s faced while organizing Paddle Royale was getting corporate sponsors to come on board and support the event. However, with much persistence and many cold calls later, an impressive $10,000 in sponsorships was gathered; an amazing feat for an inaugural event. Many of the sponsors are what the YL’s call “match sponsors”, a title earned by a donation of $1,500 that essentially covers the cost of pairing a Big Brother/Sister with a Little Brother/Sister. Sponsors also had the option of being a “table sponsor” which allowed the sponsors to put their own ads on the tables, have their own ping-pong table for the night, and have three teams automatically entered into the tournament.

The ladies talk strategy
As the sounds of music from music sponsor Kiss 92.5 and DJ Rouge filled the air, some of the expected 400 guests excitedly started to filter into the large venue. Ping-pong tables sprawled out between two large main rooms, dotted with vases of bright orange ping-pong balls, racquets, and colourful balloons. The registration team handed out glow-in-the-dark bracelets upon entry, which quickly became a favourite accessory amongst the guest’s attire that night.  Sixty-four teams registered to play in the round-robin tournament (which is maximum capacity able to register), bedecked in creative costumes with hopes of winning the “best-dressed” title.  Participants also received a Paddle Royale t-shirt donated by Me to We Style, which is a nice souvenir to take home. For those thirsty competitors, beer sponsor Steam Whistle Brewery provided a complimentary beverage, while liquor sponsor Three Olives Vodka provided some tasty cocktails for guests who just wanted to observe the action. SPiN conjured up an amazing menu for some much needed fuel, which included such treats as brown sugar bacon lollipops, Ontario lamb shoulder sloppy Joes, vegan tacos and the traditional favourite, grilled cheese. Nestled to the left of the action was a large room filled with raffle prizes (all generously donated) adding up to a remarkable $15,000 in value. The most coveted prize of the night was a trip for two to Waikiki donated kindly by Trump Hotels and WestJet, valued at $7,700 dollars. Additional raffle prizes included such things as a Blue Jays Box night which included free food and a box for 12 people, Xbox 360s, an autographed Doug Gilmour jersey and hotel stays at the Mariott, Delta, and Sheraton. A ping-pong table was donated by SPiN for the winners of the tournament which was valued at $3,000. After the final ball was hit, lights were dimmed, the black lights came on, and the glow-in-the-dark party really started. Guests grooved to the sounds of well-known DJs, DJ McKnight and DJ Emperor (from and there was free table play for any guests wanting to let out their excess energy.

To market this wonderful event, social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter were “most effective in spreading the word”, states Boynton.  A website was created, which allowed participants to register for the event and find out additional information about Paddle Royale. Local television station CP24 mentioned the event on their program, while the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) filmed the pop-up ping-pong party that was held outside in front of SPiN weeks before the event to generate hype. Posters were put up in condo buildings and coffee shops as well.

In all, teams alone raised over $30,000 and with sponsorship's of $10,000 and money raised throughout the night, contributions amassed to over $50,000. Being a first year event, Paddle Royale can only get bigger and better from here.  If you’d like to learn more about Big Brothers and Sisters of Toronto please visit their webpage at For more information about Paddle Royale please go to


SPiN Toronto:
Three Olives:
Steam Whistle Brewery:
Kiss 92.5:
Me to We Style:
Trump Hotels:

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Have You Ever Experienced Loss In Your Life?

 Accompanied by "I Miss You" by Avril Lavigne.

 Hello all,

As many of you know, it has been a very tough week for me. I thought I would write a blog about my experience as part of my healing process. Each day is getting better, but my heart is still broken.

Just another day at work
Don't be fooled by the bows
On June 5th, 2013, I had to make the very difficult decision of putting my little girl Maddie (Moo) down to rest after 12 wonderful years. My heart has been aching with pain and sadness ever since. The silence is deafening as I sit here in my apartment. Coming home is something I dread more than enjoy at this moment. It feels almost suffocating being in this space. Everything reminds me of her and all I want to do is hold her and see her again. It is a surreal feeling knowing I will never physically get to see my sweet girl again in this lifetime. The sense of loss has been overwhelming and rather difficult to process. I know in theory Maddie is with me in spirit and I am never alone and that time will heal this pain, however with that said I have never felt so alone before in my life. She has been my constant companion ever since I moved out on my own and I didn't realize until this past week how much her presence helped me feel safe and fulfilled. It seems rather crazy that the death of an animal can produce this much heartache, but she was more than just an animal to me. She was like my child. We were two peas in a pod. We were almost like an old married couple at times! Although Maddie was kind of super crazy and her attitude made her infamous around any neighbourhood we moved to, it's that attitude that made me love her even more. Everyone remembered who my crazy little fur ball was after meeting her only once. Perhaps that isn't something to brag about, but I don't care. She had a big personality and I loved her for that. It didn't matter that people questioned why I kept such a crazy dog. I would do anything for her. I learned to love unconditionally, and having her in my life made me realize that I AM able to connect with another being with all my heart. She was my mirror in a lot of ways as she too had issues fully trusting others, was very independent, had a crazy sex drive, and had her emotional highs and lows. She was my barometer for how anxious I was or how much negativity I was carrying around that day - which was generally displayed by vicious growls at my face. Yes it was the right thing to do to assist her in leaving this earth, as the quality of her life was dwindling, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. I miss her everyday.

This loss made me truly empathize more than ever, with people who have lost children, parents, relatives, and companions they've held dear to their hearts. It is a pain that is inevitable in life. I too have had people and animals close to me pass away, however it never felt quite like this. It is the cycle of life and the reason we need to cherish each other, our animals, and our planet every day. We need to soak their souls in, their uniqueness, their faults and shining moments, and take care of each other the best we can.

What I Love and will miss most about my Moo Moo...

I will miss seeing her squeeze her little face through the bathroom door everyday to pay a visit.
I will miss having her wander into my office and nudge my hand to pet her. 

Scared of the thunder
I will miss hearing the pitter patter of her feet following me around the apartment.
I will miss her sleeping by my bedroom door, making me feel protected.
I will miss feeling her fur.
I will miss hearing her hump her stuffed alligator and drag it across the floor over and over again.
I will miss taking her for walks and seeing her bright coat shine in the sun. 

I will miss seeing her lie under the glass table while I eat...peering up expectantly.
I will miss feeling her wet nose on my hand or face.
I will miss her scent and her beautiful brown eyes staring up at me.
I will miss her waking me up every morning after I've hit the snooze button for the third time so she could eat her scrumptious food. 

I will miss having to explain to people every walk I go on, this:

Me: "No no don't try and pet her. She's not very nice."*
Them: Yah right. She's so cute *proceeds to bend down to pet her and cute Moo turns into rabid Moo*

End scene.
All groomed and ready to mingle

I will miss seeing her tap dancing away for her treats. 
I will miss seeing her prance across the floor. 
I will miss cuddling with her on the floor.
I will miss seeing her run after her squeaky "wooleys".
I will miss hearing her eat her crunchy dog food. She had no manners.
I will miss seeing her chase squirrels and hearing her bark at everything under the sun.

I will miss how we sometimes share the same menstrual cycle! Imagine how the house was then!
I will miss her crazy growl and her low manly bark.
I will miss her cuddling up to me when thunderstorms roll in and the smoke alarm goes off.
I will miss seeing her make a bed out of anything that is on the floor.
I will miss hearing her sing to my dad's trumpet.
I will miss seeing her sleep and looking so peaceful.
I will miss her making me laugh with her craziness.
I will miss my TV watching companion. 

Her lover of 12 years - Ali

I will miss seeing her bark at dogs on the TV.
I will miss her unimpressed glares at me and anyone else she came into contact with.
I will miss hearing her waiting excitedly by the door when I get home from work.
I will miss her sleeping under my bed when she gets scared of the loud noises outside.
I will miss hearing her snore.
I will miss seeing her run after the crazy Canadian geese or other birds.
I will miss seeing her looking so happy with the wind blowing in her face while we go on our car rides.

I will miss our lazy afternoons watching movies. 

I will never forget my little one and hope she is stirring up some trouble up above. I will love you forever Madster. 

"I know.  I'm beautiful."

Lovely Lianne xoxo