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It was an incredible dream come true to be hired to photograph the star-studded David Foster Foundation Gala as it returned to Toronto this year, held at the historic hockey rink, the Mattamy Athletic Centre on September 26th, 2015.

And the David Foster “Miracle Gala and Concert” was truly, truly incredible.

I’ve been lucky to cover many amazing events in Toronto but the David Foster Foundation gala was definitely a stand-out.

After a “purple carpet”, the main event quickly got underway emceed by eTALKS’s Ben Mulroney and CNN’s Michaela Pereira.

Headlining performers of the evening included Peter Cetera (of Chicago fame), Kiesza, Michael Bolton, Sinbad and finally Stevie Wonder. And that’s not even mentioning the surprise performances.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First of all, guests watched an intimate and upclose video of the Dickson family and how the older son needed a transplant from the father, but also the daughter needed an organ as well. Amazingly, the father was able to provide a kidney and liver for of his children. With tears in everyone’s eyes the Dickson family went on stage talking about how the David Foster Foundation helped ease their financial burden during this strenuous time in their lives. This allowed the Dickson family to focus on their family’s well being.

Following that, the donations came pouring in to help families just like the Dickson family. $10,000 for 1 family for one year. There were many of those bids, many multiple bids and even a couple incredible bids where families generously matched every donation made that night. Incredible.

I recall one moment when one of the generous men was asked to plug his business in return for being able to be in a position to offer such generosity. He modestly declined and just encouraged everyone to continue donating.

Sean Jones warms up the crowd with one of the first performances of the star-studded night

Sean Jones warms up the crowd with one of the first performances of the star-studded night

 

Renowned pianist William Joseph performed with violinist Caroline Campbell

Renowned pianist William Joseph performed with violinist Caroline Campbell

 

David Foster and Peter Cetera (Chicago) heat things up

David Foster and Peter Cetera (Chicago) heat things up

 

Even Brian Mulroney gave a surprise performance

Even Brian Mulroney gave a surprise performance

 

When the one and only Gordon Lightfoot came up to the stage to sing

When the one and only Gordon Lightfoot came up to the stage to sing “If You Could Read My Mind”

 

Kiesza

 

Without giving you a chance to brace yourself, Michael Bolton sang

Without giving you a chance to brace yourself, Michael Bolton sang “When a Man Loves a Woman”

 

Guests in attendance included the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell. Also Craig Kielburger (We Day), Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, Kathleen Wynne, Bruce Croxon, Kimberley Newport-Mimran, Joe Mimran.

Sinbad was hilarious, talking about how he got into Canada for the gala without a passport

Sinbad was hilarious, talking about how he got into Canada for the gala without a passport

 

And finally, Stevie Wonder was incredible closing out the night with an extended performance.

It was great to see that limited “Stadium Bowl” tickets were allowed to be purchased so that public guests could buy tickets to watch the incredible once-in-a-lifetime performances. Prices ranged from $99 to $299.

This was another important year in the foundation’s “30 x 30 campaign” where the David Foster Foundation aims to raise $30 million by its 30th anniversary in 2017.

This year's David Foster Foundation Gala raises $6.5 milllion dollars

This year’s David Foster Foundation Gala raises $6.5 milllion dollars

 

It was truly an incredible night with celebrity power and money raised to promote organ donor awareness and registration in both Canada and the United States.

The Dickson Family

 

For more info about the David Foster Foundation Gala visit www.davidfosterfoundation.com

Photos by Nick Lee and James Shay

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Nick Lee

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