The Heroes Gala is Right To Play’s annual must-attend signature fundraising event, honouring outstanding heroes who are doing extraordinary work to help children and youth rise above adversity.

Join us for an impactful evening of inspiration and hope as more than 1,100 community leaders in business, sports, entertainment, government and philanthropy unite to honour incredible heroes who are doing amazing things to make the world a better place for children and youth.

Our 2018 Heroes Gala was recently awarded #1 charity benefit in Toronto by leading event industry publication, BizBash Magazine!

6:00pm - 11:30pm | Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building



Dean Connor was appointed President & Chief Executive Officer, Sun Life Financial in 2011 and is a member of the company’s Board of Directors. A distinguished business leader, Mr. Connor was named Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year for 2017 and Ivey’s Business Leader of the Year for 2018.  Dean is dedicated to giving back to the community.  He serves on the Ivey Advisory Board, Business Council of Canada, as well as a Trustee for the University Health Network in Toronto and was Chair of the 2017 United Way campaign for Toronto and York Region, to name a few.  
Under Dean’s leadership, Sun Life Financial is deeply committed to Right To Play and its programs.  Sun Life has been a partner since 2011, investing in the PLAY program for Indigenous youth in 85 communities across Canada.


Pascal Siakam is a Right To Play Athlete Ambassador and star forward for the Toronto Raptors. Since coming to Toronto, Pascal has made an incredible impact both on and off the court, especially with youth. Affectionately known as Spicy P, Pascal is deeply committed to helping kids and enjoys engaging in educational and play-based games, making him an outstanding role model for Right To Play’s Youth To Youth play-based programs. A native of Cameroon, Pascal was an avid soccer player before attending a Basketball Without Borders Camp in 2011. His immense talent and drive resulted in him being selected in the first round of 2016 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors.
At only 24 years old, Pascal is a rising star in the NBA and he is leading the Raptors in several statistical categories. Having overcome his own hardships and personal tragedy, Pascal takes pride in speaking to youth about the power of sport and play to rise above adversity. And, in addition to his involvement with Right To Play, Pascal serves on the Jr NBA Canada Advisory Council, Giants of Africa, and he is committed to continued support of youth focused programs especially in his native Cameroon. With his personal tagline “#HumbleHustle Pascal is inspiring youth to strive for what they want in life, while remaining joyful, humble and grounded.


Ralph Lean is a founding member of Right To Play’s Canadian Advisory Board. He served as Chair for over 18 years and during this time led the charge on fundraising in Canada. Lean is a highly regarded business lawyer, currently working as counsel at Gowling WLG. Lean Is presently Deputy Chairman, Hampton Securities Ltd., Honorary Consul Kingdom of Morocco in Toronto, Chairman, Dream Maker Developments and Dream Maker Ventures Inc., and sits on the board of The Score and B’nai Brith Canada. He is a trusted adviser to clients that range from start-ups to global corporations, including public-private partnerships, infrastructure projects, health care, commercial real estate, telecommunications, and government relations.
Ralph is a distinguished counsel-in-residence at Ryerson University, where he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws. In 2013, Ralph was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.



  • Kevin Strain, Executive Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer, Sun Life Financial
  • Sean St. John, Executive VP, Managing Director, Head of Fixed Income and Debt & Equity Capital Markets, National Bank
  • Marianne Harris, Member of the Board of Directors, Sun Life Financial and Loblaw Companies Ltd.
  • Carol Banducci, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, IAMGOLD


  • John Bitove Jr., Chairman & CEO, Obelysk Group
  • Gordon Bogden, Executive Chairman, Black Loon Group, Inc.
  • Andrew Edgell, Managing Director, Credit Investments, CPPIB
  • Loren Francis, Vice President & Principal, Highview Financial Group
  • Jacques Goulet, President, Sun Life Financial Canada
  • Craig Hurl, Director, Global Trading, Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan
  • Melissa Kennedy, Executive Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer & Public Affairs, Sun Life Financial
  • Ralph Lean, Counsel, Gowling WLG
  • Mark Saunders, Executive Vice-President & Chief Information Officer, Sun Life Financial
  • David Skurka, Managing Director & Head of Canadian Investment Banking, National Bank Financial
  • Tim Stinson, Executive Vice President, Waratah Capital Advisors Ltd.
  • Larry Tanenbaum, OC, Chairman, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
  • Sandra Taube Godard, Managing Director, UBS Securities Canada Inc
  • David Torrey, Managing Director, Credit Capital Markets, National Bank Financial


Sponsors play a integral role in not only bringing The Heroes Gala to life, but, more importantly, helping Right To Play continue its valuable work in helping children rise above adversity - thank you! To learn more about sponsorship opportunities please visit the website at or contact

Title Sponsor


Pillar Sponsors

  • BMO, Education
  • CIBC, Gender Equality
  • IAMGOLD, Health & Well-Being
  • KingSett, Leadership
  • Maple Leaf & Sports Entertainment, Athlete Award
  • National Bank, Indigenous Youth
  • RBC, After Party
  • Scotiabank, Youth Awards

Heroes Gala 2018

For more information about this event, please contact Tanya Phillipps, Events & Sponsorship Manager, at