Making a Difference: Diamond and Diamond Lawyers Go All-in for Easter Seals

Making a Difference: Diamond and Diamond Lawyers Go All-In for Easter Seals

Diamond and Diamond Lawyers in Toronto have always advocated for people in need of legal assistance. As Canada’s largest personal injury law firm, they handle everything from slips and falls to dog bites to class action lawsuits. 

Our lawyers do their best to protect victims’ rights in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. However, our involvement doesn’t end with getting compensation for our clients’ injuries.

The law firm also engages with the communities they serve by supporting worthy causes through fundraising and awareness building. One such cause is Easter Seals Ontario, which needs more support for its initiatives than it gets from the federal government. 

In November 2022, the law firm joined the Brampton Celebrity Hockey Classic for the first time to support people with disabilities. They joined again in 2023 as Team Diamond & Diamond Lawyers LLP (Brampton).

This article focuses on Easter Seals Ontario and the importance of community engagement and supporting meaningful causes. It touches on the organization’s history, service, and impact on Toronto society.

Key Takeaways

  • Diamond and Diamond Lawyers joined the Brampton Celebrity Hockey Classic in 2022 and 2023 to support Easter Seals Ontario.
  • Proceeds from the Celebrity Hockey Classic Series go to Easter Seals Ontario, a nonprofit organization for disabled kids.
  • Corporate advocacy of nonprofit organizations elevates their visibility, motivating more businesses to participate.

What is the Brampton Celebrity Hockey Classic?

Brampton is a vibrant city in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) of Ontario, Canada. With a population of over 600,000 people, it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

The city was primarily an agricultural community in the early 19th century. Over the years, Brampton has transformed into a bustling urban centre with a diverse population. It’s known for its cultural diversity, thriving economy, and strong sense of community, which has led to its participation in the Celebrity Hockey Classic Series. This annual charitable event allows hockey enthusiasts to meet and play with former NHL greats. 

Participant fundraisers get the opportunity to meet and greet the players during an exclusive Draft Party. Each team drafts one former NHL player to play on their team on Draft Party night. However, the team that raises the most funds gets the first pick as a reward for their hard work.

An All-Star game follows the tournament, with NHL alums in one team playing against top participant fundraisers in another. Sponsors get a table for eight at the VIP Draft Party for $2,500.

The Brampton Celebrity Hockey Classic is one of several events in the series, and it’s typically held in November each year. The 2023 schedule is for November 2. 

You can simply donate or register as a participant. The registration fee is $125, which comes with a personalized team jersey and socks in your corporate colours. You can join or create a team, like the Diamond & Diamond Lawyers team captained by Diana Iakossavas.

However, creating or joining a team doesn’t guarantee entry into the tournament. Each team must raise at least $7,500. The Celebrity Hockey Classic Series’ goal for 2023 is $1.2 million, which will benefit Easter Seals Ontario and its initiatives.

What is Easter Seals?

The history of Easter Seals began in tragedy. Edgar Allen, a businessman in Ohio, had a son who died in a streetcar accident in 1907. It prompted him to raise funds to build a hospital in his hometown in his son’s memory. Through his association with the hospital, he discovered that people often hid children with disabilities from public view. In response, he started the National Society for Crippled Children in 1919.

One of the organization’s fundraising campaigns is the sale of Easter “seals.” Donors show their support by using them in their letters and envelopes. The first set of Easter Seals came out in 1934, featuring the image of a lily that symbolized the right to a normal life. The flower became the official logo of the society in 1952.

The overwhelming public support for the Easter Seals prompted the organization to expand nationally. In 1967, the National Society for Crippled Children officially became the Easter Seals. Today, it’s the largest nonprofit healthcare organization in the US, and its various chapters are collectively known as Easterseals.

What is Easter Seals Ontario?

In Canada, the name Easter Seals remains intact in its various iterations. Easter Seals Ontario (ESO) is a charitable organization dedicated to helping children and youth with long-term physical disabilities.

While ESO took inspiration from its American counterpart, it wasn’t initially a part of the Easter Seals. Rotary Club representatives met to discuss the plight of children with disabilities in Ontario in November 1922 in Windsor, Ontario. The outcome was the formation of the Ontario Society for Crippled Children, patterned after the US organization.

The organization focused on public information campaigns and was largely successful. However, serious public health issues plagued the province, including an outbreak of polio in 1937. The Ontario government turned to Easter Seals for advice on managing it. That same year, the organization became Easter Seals Ontario.  

The goal of ESO today is to provide these kids with resources to help them overcome obstacles and reach their full potential. Their programs and services aim to create a more accessible and inclusive environment where these children are respected and given opportunities to succeed.

The organization operates through fundraising efforts, donations, and partnerships with individuals, corporations, and community organizations. Some of the services they provide include:

Financial assistance

ESO  offers funds to families with eligible and registered children to help cover the costs of essential equipment. These include the following categories:

  • Mobility aids
    • Wheelchairs
    • Walkers
    • Strollers
    • Scooters
  • Ministry of Health (MoH) Assistive Devices Program (ADP)-approved communication and writing aids
    • Computers
    • Communication boards
    • Trays
    • Speech and voice aids
  • ADP-funded and authorized orthotics
    • Ankle foot orthotics
    • Knee ankle foot orthotics
    • Tone-reducing ankle foot orthosis
    • Standers
  • Accessibility aids
    • Porch lifts
    • Building materials for ramp only
    • Portable ramps
    • Ceiling track lift system for bedroom and bathroom only
    • Stairlifts
    • Scooter lifts
    • Van lifts
    • Specialized car seats
    • Van tie-down system
    • Bathing and toileting aids
    • Bath bars & grips
    • Commode chairs
    • Bath chairs and seats
    • Shower chairs
    • Transfer aids

Incontinence supplies

One of the essential needs of young people with disabilities that the federal government fails to address is incontinence supplies. ESO spends resources coordinating with the provincial government to address this gap. It administers the MoH-funded Incontinence Supplies Grant Program

The program is available for Ontario residents aged between 3 and 18 years with a chronic disability and irreversible incontinence or retention issues. Montreal, Calgary, or Edmonton residents may qualify for similar programs by Easter Seals in their provinces.

The annual grant comes in two payments to help families offset the costs of diapers, liners, and catheters. The assistance ranges from $400 to $900 yearly, depending on the level of need.

The organization also administers the Top Up Grant Program, which is an extra payment for incontinence supplies. Those who receive Incontinence Supplies Grant and Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD) benefits may qualify for the program. ESO will notify eligible grantees when to apply. 

Summer camp programs

The organization operates fully accessible summer camp programs designed for children and youth with physical disabilities. These programs allow them to participate in activities, build friendships, and develop life skills in an inclusive and supportive environment.

ESO accepts donations of cash and in-kind to create a meaningful camp experience. A single day of camp costs $250 per child, and they have a wish list of items the camps need.

Education and advocacy

ESO works with multiple organizations to provide children with long-term physical disabilities access to education. One of their initiatives is participation in the Easter Seals Canada ScotiaRISE Supporting Students through Accessible Technology and Mentorship Program (SSATMP). It offers financial assistance and mentorship programs to ESO clients who are planning to attend college or enter the workforce.

Eligibility for SSATMP is limited to those enrolled in grades 11 or 12 as of fall 2023. The program’s goal is to reduce barriers to completing high school and transitioning to independence.

Other ESO scholarships for people with physical disabilities include the following:

  • Vigneswaran Scholarship
  • Ursula Carsen Scholarship
  • Truelove Dell Scholarship Fund
  • Sal Iacono Family Bursary Endowment Fund
  • Kevin and Christy Kelly Scholarship
  • John Domenic Caggiula Memorial Scholarship
  • Hodglynn Holsteins Scholarship
  • Hira Scholarship
  • Hira Post Graduate Scholarship
  • Future Leader Award
  • Erica Vanclief Memorial Scholarship
  • Easter Seals Ontario Scholarships
  • Easter Seals Ontario Board of Directors Scholarship
  • Connie O’Connor Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship applications are typically due in early spring. Contact the individual organizations to get the eligibility criteria and submission deadlines for your preferred scholarship programs.

Additionally, ESO has representatives participate on provincial school boards’ Special Education Advisory Committees (SEAC). They help protect the rights of young people with special needs by providing relevant information, advice, and assistance.

The Impact of Easter Seals Ontario

ESO relies on volunteers, donors, and community partners to support its programs and services. The organization aims to create a more inclusive and accessible society to empower people with physical disabilities.

In 2022, ESO celebrated its 100th anniversary, and its annual report shows steady progress in its initiatives. While children with disabilities receive financial support from provincial and federal governments, they sometimes fall short in some areas, such as essential equipment and incontinence supplies. 

Here’s a summary of ESO’s impact in 2022:

  • Fulfilled 1,101 funding requests for essential mobility and accessibility aids, totalling $1,982,602. About 92% of parents reported positive effects on a child’s independence.
  • Awarded 22 post-secondary scholarships with a total value of $31,490.
  • Forty-three percent of ESO beneficiaries had an annual family income of less than $40,000.
  • Hosted 3,176 days of camp for 442 campers in 12 in-person camp sessions.
  • Sent 36 Special Education Advisory Committee representatives to 29 school boards, totalling 632 hours of volunteer time.

A core service of ESO is the Equipment Funding Program because the government only shoulders 75 percent of the cost of essential equipment. These resources play a critical role in supporting young people with physical disabilities, as evidenced by a survey of beneficiaries. 

Ninety-three percent claim that they would not have been able to afford the equipment on their own or without significant sacrifices. Ninety-one percent report an increase in child safety in public and at home. Most parents observed improved ability in their child to connect socially (70 percent) and increased self-confidence (80 percent).

Scholarships and camp activities foster the innate motivation and ambition of many young people with disabilities, encouraging them to chase their dreams. ESO’s goal is to allow them to go out into the real world and test the waters without fear or anxiety.

However, these initiatives take money, and ESO explores various fundraising avenues. In 2022, they held 55 fundraising events, including the Celebrity Hockey Classic Series. It raised almost $2 million for ESO over nine events, including the one in Brampton.

Who does ESO serve?

It’s essential to consider the benefits of supporting ESO. The organization empowers young people in Ontario who have long-term physical disabilities. These encompass many medical conditions, each one dealing with a unique set of challenges. The caseload in 2022 was 1,200 clients in various categories.

Seventy-eight percent was neurodevelopmental, involving issues with brain development. That includes 46 percent due to cerebral palsy and 32 percent due to birth defects or congenital abnormalities. Other causes include global developmental delay (10 percent) and seizure disorders (7 percent).

Another category is neuromuscular and skeletal issues involving muscles or bones. These include muscular dystrophy, neuropathy, spinal muscular atrophy, and osteogenesis imperfecta.

Two other categories involve the spinal cord or spinal bifida (five percent) and acquired disabilities due to injury or trauma (four percent).

How Diamond and Diamond Lawyers Supported Easter Seals

In November 2022, Diamond and Diamond LLP joined the Brampton Celebrity Hockey Classic to support Easter Seals Ontario for the first time. It was such a satisfying experience that the law firm joined again in 2023. 

Managing Partner, Sandra Zisckind, spoke of the sense of community and engagement it engendered. In the video below, she strongly encouraged all business owners to get involved in ESO events.

The law firm’s participation in ESO events helps raise awareness of the organization’s work and the need for more support. Diamond and Diamond Lawyers support the charitable organization’s belief that every child deserves a chance to make their mark on the world. Even if it’s in a small way, the time and money they give to the cause help create an inclusive and accessible society.  

They extend that belief to their work with personal injury victims, some of whom now have long-term disabilities. Everyone should have access to the help they need to protect their rights. They should receive fair compensation for the injuries, such as brain injuries, sustained because of someone else’s negligence.

Young people with disabilities should never be blamed for their condition, either. Because of their participation, the lawyers at Diamond & Diamond bear witness to the indomitable spirit of ESO clients. The potential of these young people with disabilities has motivated them to keep on giving.

Diamond & Diamond firmly believes that community engagement is a win-win for all businesses, so everybody should give when possible. They also participate in non-ESO causes, such as the Chief’s Golf Tournament in 2023, to benefit Victim Services Toronto.

Importance of Corporate Sponsorship and Community Engagement

Participating in charitable events and supporting worthy causes, such as ESO initiatives, satisfies our innate desire to help others. Most people feel good when they do their part to support a meaningful cause, and in many cases, that is enough. However, there are also practical benefits to corporate sponsorship and community engagement.

Get positive exposure

Corporate sponsorships or donations typically involve financial consideration. For example, sponsorship for the Brampton Celebrity Hockey Classic costs $2,500. However, any money or community service you give as a business often comes back as positive exposure.

You attract media attention through social media mentions, press releases, and other collaterals for the event. It shows the community that you care about relevant issues and creates a positive brand image. That kind of goodwill is priceless, especially for businesses that work in the background, such as law firms. The public acknowledgment of your good work is equivalent to an excellent return on your investment.

Build relationships

Most sponsors and donors of charitable events tend to be prominent people in the public and private sectors. Being in the same room as them can help you make excellent connections and provide you with opportunities for future collaborations. Some may even need your products or services immediately, presenting a promising lead. For example, hanging out on a VIP Draft Night is a great opportunity to acquire new clients.

Sports sponsorships are particularly effective because they usually target an audience with fan loyalty and sporting ties. You can bond over shared interests and create strong relationships.

Gain business insights

Participating in events, like the Brampton Celebrity Hockey Classic, helps you connect with people in different sectors of society. Many fellow participants are successful at what they do so you can get some actionable insights. You can get ideas for a business, learn about new trends, and discover practical strategies to attract new clients.

Create interesting content

Sometimes, being a part of something worthy of notice gives you content material that resonates with your audience. For example, if you participated in a charity event that brought you in contact with the beneficiaries, you can document and share the experience sincerely and authentically, encouraging others to do the same. Talking about it can also drive traffic to your site and social media accounts.

If you run a personal injury law firm, learning more about the plight and issues of others can give you a unique perspective. Create content around it to engage your audience organically. Everybody loves a good story with a happy ending, and you can play a supporting role in these narratives.

Generate leads

Most people develop loyalty to brands when they have an emotional connection to them. It could be through positive brand messaging strategies or association with social issues. Helping young people with disabilities get a leg up is an excellent way to associate your brand with a worthy cause.

Sponsoring an event helps you show that your business is not just about making a profit. It shows your company’s human side, which always resonates with your audience. You can generate leads from your participation through direct inquiries or by using the organization’s mailing list to send offers. You can ask the event organizer for that information, which you can use to create a customized lead-generation strategy. 

These business benefits don’t negate the value of corporate sponsorships and community engagement in any way. Consider them the icing on a worthy-cause cake.

Did you know?

Easter Seals Ontario operates two residential camps, Camp Merrywood and Camp Woodeden, which are 100 percent funded through public donations. These camps provide opportunities for children and youth with physical disabilities to engage in recreational activities, develop life skills, and build lasting friendships in an inclusive environment.

Diamond Law Can Help With Disability-Related Cases

Easter Seals Ontario provides an opportunity for businesses to make a positive impact on people with disabilities in their community. They help clients by providing them with the means to become more independent and realize their potential despite their challenges.

Perhaps more than most businesses, Diamond and Diamond Lawyers understand the impact of long-term disability on quality of life. They already do their part by protecting the rights of those who were injured because of someone else’s negligence. They help personal injury victims get fair compensation for all they have suffered, including long-term disability. 

However, Diamond Law has gone even further. They recognize that community engagement through corporate sponsorships is a great way to serve the community. Their participation twice in the Brampton Celebrity Hockey Classic shows how they serve the community by providing non-legal services.

If you suffered injuries that led to long-term disability, you can get a free case evaluation to find out how we can help you.

Advocacy is about support. Diamond and Diamond Lawyers go all in for Easter Seals and their clients. Visit our website today!

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