Victim Services Toronto (VST) and the Kidney Foundation of Canada are near and dear to Chief Mark Saunders’ heart.
VST provides crisis response, trauma and support services to victims of crime and sudden tragic circumstances 24 hours a day.
Last October, Saunders underwent a kidney transplant with his wife being the donor.
When the Chief learned that the East Asian Internal Support Network was donating the funds from its fourth annual golf fundraiser on August 30 to the two organizations, he wanted to be a part of the tournament at the Cedar Brae Golf & Country Club.
Supervised by crisis counsellors, VST volunteers provide crisis intervention and referrals, assist on the telephone or attend the scene as requested, and also help with fundraising and other community outreach initiatives.
“Victim Services doesn’t have core sponsorship,” said Saunders. “Without these types of events, they wouldn’t be the success they are. This has been an extremely taxing year for them, when you look at the number of incidents we have had involving violence across the city, including two mass causalities.”
Before his transplant, Saunders had been living with kidney disease since the 1990s.
“If more people have an understanding of the disease, they can have better tools to help them make better decisions,” he said. “Having gone through it myself, I have learned there’s tremendous support out there. You, however, have to know who they are and where they are. The fact that the East Asian ISN recognizes both entities and is contributing funds to them is a great testament to who we hire as employees and who we are as human beings.”
Over $36,000 was raised by a total of 144 golfers who took part in the tournament and 380 people who attended the dinner.
Nearly half of the golf participants were Toronto Police members.
“I am extremely happy with the support we have here,” said East Asian ISN co-chair Patrick Yeung, a sergeant attached to the Public Safety Response Team. “This year is special in terms of the organizations we have chosen to support. We all know that our Chief had a kidney transplant and Victim Services play an important role in our daily operational needs.”
The participants included Inspector Dave Rydzik who has played in three of the four tournaments.
“This is an opportunity for our members to come out and have some fun while raising money for good causes,” he said. “I sit on the VST board and I can tell you that the organization makes a difference in the lives of citizens in this city when tragedy strikes.”