The minute he won $1,000 at a Toronto Raptors home game on March 14, Inspector Dave Saunders of Divisional Policing Support Unit (DPSU) knew exactly where the money was going.
Invited to play a contest at centre court during the third quarter of the meeting against the Memphis Grizzlies, Saunders donated the winnings to his favourite charity – Victim Services Toronto (VST).
“It’s a hugely popular charity with all officers,” Saunders said, of the non-profit organization that supports victims after officers respond to a crime. “We recognize the excellent and necessary work that these highly trained staff and volunteers deliver to us on our behalf and for victims.”
Saunders was given the shot at the prize after a Raptors staff member chose him to represent emergency services as part of the Toronto Police, Fire and Emergency Services personnel invited to the Raptors First Responders Awareness Night.
“Basically, there were five boxes and each of them had a cash value with the exception of one that was marked ‘X’. If you selected that box, you would lose every cent you won.”
Saunders stopped at the third box after reaching $1,000.
“I made the correct call because the next box was marked ‘X’ and I would have lost everything,” he said.
Staff Superintendent Tom Russell represented Chief Bill Blair and sat at centre court while Saunders, along with Staff Sergeants Steve Pipe and Ronald Reed, Sergeant Donovan Locke and Constable Patricia Hung, watched the home team defeat the Grizzlies 99-86 from a Raptors-donated suite.
At a celebration to mark National Victims of Crime Awareness Week on April 7 at police headquarters, Saunders presented the cheque to VST executive director Bonnie Levine.
“This is a significant presentation because it’s the first cheque we have received in our new fiscal year that started on April 1,” she said. “Every cent and penny count and we are very grateful for this.”
Levine said VST is seeking to raise $700,000 this year to maintain its programs and services. In 2013-14, the organization raised $600,000.