They’re 100 Men Who Care to actually meet in person again.
With more than 80 percent of Ottawa residents now double vaccinated against COVID-19, members of the charitable social group felt comfortable enough to hold an outdoor get-together Tuesday night. The special evening took place at TD Place in Lansdowne Park, on a spacious patio overlooking the west-end zone of the stadium.
The fundraiser was in support of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) Foundation and its commitment to help local youth, particularly those from vulnerable communities. The September Social featured recently retired RedBlacks star receiver and fan favourite Brad Sinopoli in a Q&A, followed by a live concert from the JW-Jones Blues Band.
100 Men Who Care Ottawa normally meets four times a year for a couple of hours each time, usually at Trattoria Caffé Italia. Its members spend the first hour socializing and networking over beer and the second hour listening to local charities who've been invited to come and talk about the work that they do in the community. Afterward, each member makes a minimum donation of $100, either to one charity or divided up.
After 18 months of having to hold 100 Men meetings virtually, the gathering at TD Place was just what many of its members needed. “This feels really good,” Ron Smith, steering committee chair of 100 Men Who Care Ottawa and a director with Ottawa-based executive search firm Keynote Search, said during his welcome remarks to a crowd of about 100 people, made up of members and their guests.
In its seven years, the group has raised $161,000 for more than 70 local charities. The funds have made a difference for so many small grassroots charities, said Smith, while adding that, for the 100 Men members, the philanthropic aspect to the group makes for “a real feel-good" experience.
Joining Smith on the committee is Keynote’s chief operating officer, Brad Ezard, as vice chair. Their boss, Keynote Search CEO and co-founder James Baker, was among the business leaders in attendance that night. Also seen were MacEwen Petroleum director Brian Boucher, who co-founded the Ottawa chapter of 100 Men Who Care, and 100 Men committee member Stephen McDermott, who gets credit for getting his award-winning musical friend, JW-Jones, to perform with his band that night.
Jones was a winner of a Forty Under 40 Award in 2014. Also there from the Forty Under 40 set were 2021 recipients Matthew Carr, president of Gifford Car Insurance Group, and Nick McRae, owner of Roxborough Bus Lines.
McCabe Promotional Advertising, represented by its business development manager, Maxx Rochette, stepped up to help sponsor the event.
Guests also included members of sister organization 100 Women Who Care Ottawa.
Proceeds from the evening were to go toward the new RedBlacks Mentorship Program. OSEG Foundation executive director Janice Barresi and senior manager Nancy Crump were in attendance with Sinopoli, new community ambassador for OSEG and the RedBlacks. The two-time Grey Cup champion is originally from nearby Peterborough and was a star player with the University of Ottawa's Gee-Gees.
Sinopoli, 33, spoke about why he chose to end his nine-year pro football career, his favourite memories with the RedBlacks (the 2016 Grey Cup parade through downtown Ottawa was one of them), and how easy it is to make a positive impact on a child’s life by showing them kindness and being generous with one’s time.
Making the decision to retire wasn’t easy, he acknowledged.
“To kind of walk away from that is tough and I do miss it, I’m not going to lie. Being out here, being near the turf, coming to the first game, I had all these jitters.”
Sinopoli, who recently became a first-time dad, said it was important to him to leave while he was still healthy. That he was happy with his football career and with everything that he'd accomplished made his decision easier. “I think you just want to feel satisfied, that you gave everything that you possibly could and you tried your hardest.”
Sinopoli also spoke about some of his interests, including his well-known love of fishing, as well as his more guilty pleasure, the reality show Bachelor in Paradise.