Light up the Night for Bruyère heads to 50 Sussex for fireworks

Stunning evening showcases new tech tools designed to help elderly patients ease effects of aging

OBJ.Social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark MotorsBruyère FoundationMarilyn Wilson Dream Properties and Sparks Dental. Read their stories here.

It may be the oldest hospital, with the oldest patients, but Bruyère Continuing Care is out to change the future of aging with new and innovative technologies.

“People really want to be healthy when they’re older,” Heidi Sveistrup, CEO and chief scientific officer of the Bruyère Research Institute, told OBJ.social. “They don’t want to just sit in a rocker and feel like their life has been written off.”

Sveistrup, who's also a long-time professor in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Ottawa, was one of about 250 people to attend a chic benefit for Bruyère this past Saturday night. It was held at 50 Sussex, a hot new event space overlooking the Ottawa River and Rideau River Falls. It’s also headquarters for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. 

The perfect summer evening of drinks, food and live entertainment culminated with the grand finale of the Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light annual international fireworks competition. 

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The view of the grand finale of Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light international fireworks competition, as seen from the second-storey balcony at 50 Sussex, next to the Rideau River Falls and Ottawa River, during the Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit. Photo by Caroline Phillips

On hand were Peggy Taillon, president and CEO of the Bruyère Foundation, and the chair of its board of directors, commercial real estate lawyer Danny Fernandes. Joining them was Sally Douglas, principal of operations at public affairs firm Earnscliffe Strategy Group and former deputy publisher of iPolitics.

Douglas is chair of the board for the Bruyère Research Institute. The role is her way of giving back to a Canadian health care system that saved her husband’s life four years ago. Her husband, Kenny Douglas, underwent a double-lung transplant in Toronto. His lungs had been damaged during his military service in the first Gulf War and Bosnia.

“Because of research and the evolution of health care, he’s alive and kicking and doing well,” she told OBJ.social. “If he had the same surgery five years prior to the date that he had it, he would have been in a lot of more trouble.”

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From left, Heidi Sveistrup, Sally Douglas, Peggy Taillon and Danny Fernandes at the second annual Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit, held at 50 Sussex on Saturday, August 24, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The second annual Light up the Night for Bruyère was able to build on the success of last year’s inaugural fundraiser, held at the private home of Ottawa businessman Aik Aliferis. The party may have changed venues this year but the cigars were back, with ample outdoor patio space for chomping on a stogie. Guests, who were encouraged to wear red, also took in comedy and a fire-breathing performance prior to the fireworks show.

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Danny Fernandes, board chair of the Bruyère Foundation, flanked by the cigar-smoking Taimoor Aslam, left, and Dave Gervais, both with TD Commercial Banking, at Light up the Night for Bruyère. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Larissa Volinets Schieven, an associate at Emond Harnden LLP, with the Ottawa law firm's chief operating officer, Antoinette Strazza, looking relaxed and comfortable at the second annual Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit, held at 50 Sussex. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Peggy Taillon, president and CEO of the Bruyère Foundation, with marketing and communications consultant Karen Wood from Knock on Wood at the second annual Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit, held at 50 Sussex. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Attendees included: Dr. Phil Wells, chair and chief of the Department of Medicine at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa, philanthropist Shirley Greenberg, Emond Harnden LLP chief operating officer Antoinette Strazza, DCR/Phoenix Group founder and CEO Cuckoo Kochar, former Bruyère Foundation board chair Dave Ready, RBC regional president Marjolaine Hudon, Mann Lawyers senior partner André Martin, and Karen Wood, producer of the Broadway for Bruyère: Come from Away Gala happening this Thursday. It will feature a pre-show kitchen party, tickets to the Broadway musical at the National Arts Centre, and a post-show party with live Celtic music and dancing.

In the “long time, no see” category was Rosemarie Leclair. The one-time head of Hydro Ottawa recently retired as chair and CEO of the Ontario Energy Board. She and her wife, Joan Weinman, have just moved back to town, settling in the Wellington West neighbourhood.

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Dr. Phil Wells from The Ottawa Hospital with his wife, Laura Hope, at the second annual Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit, held at 50 Sussex on Saturday, August 24, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Bobbie Cain and her husband, David Hamilton (retired president of the former Ottawa Congress Centre), with Lesley Baird and her husband, Dave Ready (former president of the Ottawa Senators Foundation), at Light up the Night for Bruyère. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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DCR/Phoenix Group president and CEO Cuckoo Kochar with his wife, Madhu, at the second annual Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit, held at 50 Sussex on Saturday, August 24, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Duane Francis, with Capital Wealth Architects/Mandeville Private Client Inc., and his wife, Julie, with Leanne O'Donnell and Steve Montcalm from Gifford Carr Insurance Group at Light up the Night for Bruyère. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Chris McLeod, head of commercial litigation at Mann Lawyers, with Tennille McLeod and Irene Fronc with André Martin, senior partner at Mann Lawyers, at Light up the Night for Bruyère. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Elizabeth Gray-Smith from Bluesky Strategy Group with her good friend, Sally Douglas, board chair of the Bruyère Research Institute, and its CEO and chief scientific officer, Heidi Sveistrup, at the Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, former Ontario Energy Board chair and CEO Rosemarie Leclair with Joan Weinman, owner of The Melbourne Group strategic communications firm, at the Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit, held at 50 Sussex on Saturday, August 24, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Bruyère, founded in 1845, is Ottawa's first and oldest hospital. Today, the health care organization has 731 beds and more than 2,000 staff working across three sites in the city. It focuses on helping patients who require complex care and rehabilitation, geriatrics and palliative care.

“We may be the oldest but we’re actually one of the most innovative,” Taillon told OBJ.social.

Last year, for example, Bruyère launched a new private-public partnership with FCi involving wearable tech that helps aging folks live actively and independently, while providing caregivers peace of mind.

During Light up the Night, staff took the opportunity to showcase some of the new tech tools designed to help elderly patients combat the effects of aging. NeuroTracker, which is a video game that features bouncing balls, helps to sharpen cognitive skills while the whack-a-mole tablet game helps to test memory (disclaimer: no actual moles were assaulted in my playing of this game).

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Lawyer Danny Fernandes, chair of the board for the Bruyère Foundation, with his wife, Sandra Guttman, at the Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit, held at 50 Sussex on Saturday, August 24, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Rose Santos, who handed out champagne to guests with the aid of her gown, at the Light up the Night for Bruyère benefit, held at 50 Sussex on Saturday, August 24, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca