motionball Toronto 2024: a night forever etched on our hearts

February 13, 2024

In the chaos of bustling cities like Toronto where the city never sleeps, there are moments that stand out and touch the heart in profound ways. One such moment occurred recently at the motionball Toronto Gala, an event that epitomized glamour, generosity and goodwill.

motionball isn’t just any gala: it’s a symbol of joy and a vehicle for change that raises funds for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation (SOCF). The sold-out event ignites a spirit of inclusivity and empowerment and raised $275,000 for the SOCF.

As we arrived at the venue, greeted by a team of enthusiastic registration staff, it was evident that this was no regular gathering. Despite the initial sparse crowd at the entrance, it quickly became apparent as I moved through the event that (from entrance through cocktail reception) it was designed to be like a well-oiled machine with nobody having to endure a crowd before they got to the party. Passing through registration, we were greeted by a beautiful Campari installation, offering refreshing Negronis, setting the stage for an evening of sophistication and fun.

Proceeding through a grand, well-lit tunnel adorned with vibrant motionball branding, we felt a sense of anticipation building within us via the clever event design. Emerging into the main event, we were enveloped by a tangible energy, as some of the city’s best-dressed mingled with their smiles radiating warmth and positivity for the night ahead of entertainment and fundraising. From sponsored bars to blackjack tables, the atmosphere boomed with excitement, promising a night to remember.

Amidst the festivities, the highlight awaited us as we made our way to the dinner. Greeted by ambassadors from Special Olympics Team Canada, their infectious high fives and cheers for the VIP dinner guests mirrored that of adoring fans greeting pro athletes as they pass through tunnels into an arena, infusing us with a sense of belonging, camaraderie and importance. Seated at the media table, we were treated to impeccable service and delectable cuisine, a testament to the organizers’ dedication to excellence.

To complement the fantastic dinner service, the entertainment kept us all engaged for the entire meal. From Cary Shields’ soulful renditions to the mesmerizing performance of String Trio, each act captivated our attention and inspired liveliness to sing and dance along from our seats. As a saxophonist belted out fiery melodies (literally, his saxophone blew fire!), we found ourselves swept away by the magic of the moment, lost in a symphony of joy and unity.

However, amidst the glitz and glamour, it was the cause itself that resonated most deeply with us. Witnessing Special Olympians traverse the room with effortless grace, it was their genuine warmth and sincerity touching every soul they encountered that was truly the highlight of the evening while simultaneously being a humbling experience. Their unwavering spirit served as a poignant spark for introspection and reflection about how much we take for granted and worry about inconsequential things in the grand scheme of life. It was so moving to see the pure joy radiating from these Special Olympians’ hearts. The sheer happiness and vivacity that the power of sport brought them via a sense of belongingness with community, wellness, discipline and friendly competition was beautiful.

A highlight of the evening for me was when powerlifter Matthew Gierlach approached me as I sat at my table, asked how my evening aswas and if we bid on anything. We then followed each other on Instagram and he gave me a hug. My eyes instantly welled with tears from the overwhelming sense of kindness I felt from this complete stranger. Note to self – the world needs more hugs.

Throughout the evening, we were presented with numerous opportunities to contribute, whether through monetary donations, auction bids or direct sponsorship of athletes. FAJO‘s latest contributor Thomas Pigeon leaped at the opportunity to have the privilege of sponsoring two athletes whose dreams of competing in the Calgary games will now become a reality on behalf of himself and FAJO – that was a very proud daughter moment for me, indeed.

In retrospect, motionball Toronto Gala wasn’t merely a night of glitz and glamour: it was a celebration of humanity at its finest. It served as a poignant reminder that amidst life’s trials and tribulations, it’s the bonds we forge and the lives we touch that truly matter. As we left the event, hearts full and spirits uplifted, we were reminded of the profound impact each of us can make when we choose to embrace kindness, compassion and inclusion.

In a world scarred by division and crises, motionball stands as a beacon of hope and a testament to the transformative power of unity and generosity. As proud promoters of the #NoGoodWay campaign (a movement against the r-word), motionballers pledge to continue championing inclusivity and acceptance, ensuring that every individual, regardless of ability, is celebrated and valued for the unique gifts they bring to the world – including the many, many they bestowed upon my Dad and myself on February 9.

In the end, motionball Toronto 2024 wasn’t just an event; it was a journey of the heart, a testament to the boundless potential of the human spirit. And as we reflect on the memories created and the lives touched, we are reminded that the greatest measure of success lies not in wealth or accolades, but in the lives we impact and the hearts we uplift.

We would like to give a heartfelt shoutout to the sponsors of the motionball Gala, Toronto 2024 for supporting the SOCF and allowing this inspiring event to take place: Duet PR, Brodie O’Brien, Scarborough Toyota, Etherington Generations, CI Financial, Campari Group, IDC World Source, CIBC Mellon, Molson Coors, Torys LLP, Cameron Stephens Mortgage Capital, Special Olympics Canada Foundation, Special Olympics Ontario, Cimoroni, Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni ,Technical Adhesives, The Enright Family, Secure Digital Markets, People Corporation, Big HQ, Molson Canadian, Sol, Miller Lite, Heineken, Heineken 0.0, Arizona Hard, Grand Marnier, Aperol, Campari, Espolon Tequila, Skyy Vodka, Forty Creek, Appleton Estate, Summerhill Market, Newmarket Health & Wellness Centre, Wayne Gretzky Estates, Spirit of York Distillery Co., Liberty Grand, Graham White G Consulting, ap, Action Man Movers, Velvet Rope Brand Studio.

Photos courtesy of George Pimentel.


Story by Amy Pigeon

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