The Ottawa Hospital’s President’s Breakfast serves up early morning inspiration

Hundreds of business leaders attend as major fundraiser returns to in-person gathering for first time since 2019

TOH
The Ottawa Hospital's 21st President's Breakfast returned to its in-person format this year at the Canadian War Museum. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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2022-09-13

If ever there was a time to really wake up and smell the coffee it was at the 21st President’s Breakfast hosted by The Ottawa Hospital this morning with close to 400 business leaders, entrepreneurs and key community members starting their day off together.

These are exciting times for Ottawa as the hospital begins building a new Carling Avenue campus with the goal of revolutionizing the future of health care, creating hope and better outcomes for patients, the room heard.

“Every day, our researchers are pushing the boundaries of science,” Cameron Love, president and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital, told the breakfast crowd at the Canadian War Museum. “There are more research and clinical breakthroughs that are going to occur over this decade than probably occurred over the last 50 years. It’s our researchers who are helping to drive this change.”

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It was the first time since 2019 that the breakfast was held in person due to pandemic disruptions. Supporters did still have the option this morning of following along virtually from their home or office. 

“There’s no question COVID-19 has thrown us a lot of challenges, but it’s also made us more determined than ever to focus on new and innovative ways to develop our programs and to improve patient care,” said Love. “Simply settling for status quo is just not something we do.

“We’re always striving to ensure that our patients get the best possible treatments and always with patience and kindness.”

Thrilled to be able to welcome everyone face-to-face were the returning breakfast co-chairs, Inflector Environmental Services president and CEO Jeff Clarke and Sarah Grand, real estate advisor with Engel & Völkers and a board member with The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

The breakfast has raised $13.5 million to date. It would be nice, the co-chairs suggested, if the fundraiser could surpass the $14-million mark this year. “What a great milestone that would be, and a way to say thank you to the team at The Ottawa Hospital for their unwavering dedication and support, especially over the past two and a half years,” said Clarke.

The Foundation did share by the end of the day that the breakfast raised $510,00, with more donations still coming in.

Present were Ottawa Hospital Research Institute CEO and scientific director Dr. Duncan Stewart and Tim Kluke, president and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. Its $500-million Campaign to Create Tomorrow in support of the new campus has to date reached $233 million. The campaign is being led by local business leader Roger Greenberg and includes a campaign cabinet of community leaders. 

Most of the attendees were from the business community, even the dozens of men and women dressed in white lab coats. They were table captains, so good luck trying to hit them up for free medical advice. 

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The breakfast included an inspiring medical story from 24-year-old Haydn Bechthold, who survived Stage III colorectal cancer. Prior to his diagnosis, he was pursuing a career in professional soccer while continuing his postgraduate studies.

“Before this, I really thought I was invincible,” the well-spoken and charming young man told his audience. “I never worried about even the concept of death. I’ve come to realize I’m not invincible. I’ve also come to realize how incredibly fortunate I am, and was, to have The Ottawa Hospital and this amazing team of doctors in my corner, fighting for me, and who wouldn’t settle for traditional treatments and who really thought outside the box to give me the best life possible.”

The room heard how Bechthold successfully underwent immunotherapy treatment, followed by surgery. He continues to give back by volunteering with Colorectal Cancer Canada. 

Particularly touching was when the cancer survivor credited his surgical oncologist, Dr. Rebecca Auer, for saving his life. The good doctor was in the audience that morning.

“Growing up, I always looked up to professional athletes,” Bechthold said. “I thought of myself as a bit of a sports guy. But, since my diagnosis, the people I’ve come to admire really changed.”

His new hero is Dr. Auer. “It’s people like Dr. Auer who are the real superheroes in this world.”

TOH

caroline@obj.ca

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