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Four Teams - One Focus: Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Launches MLSE Team Up Foundation

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
New foundation will see all four of MLSE’s teams assisting disadvantaged youth

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) officially launched its new charitable arm, the MLSE Team Up Foundation on Tuesday. Building on the past success of the Raptors Foundation and the Leafs Fund, the MLSE Team Up Foundation will combine the philanthropic activities of all four MLSE-owned teams — the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and Toronto Marlies — into one organization committed to making an even greater difference for disadvantaged youth across Ontario.

The MLSE Team Up Foundation helps disadvantaged youth in priority neighbourhoods. By giving, building, teaching and growing, everyone wins.

“Being leaders in our community is one of our core values at MLSE. Our vision is for a city where kids are more active, healthier and have the ability to participate in sports and in turn help foster their development as future leaders,” said Richard Peddie, president and chief executive officer, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

The MLSE Team Up Foundation’s mandate is to BUILD by restoring and refurbishing community and recreational facilities in Ontario, as well as to GIVE resources to other charitable organizations in the Province that administer programs supporting disadvantaged youth. Through these activities, it will provide community leaders with safe, modern facilities where they can TEACH, coach and mentor their youth and provide them with opportunities to GROW and develop.

“We have a unique situation that allows us to put the power of four professional sports teams into making a real difference in the lives of kids in our province,” said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “For close to two decades the Raptors Foundation and Leafs Fund did some amazing work, but our organization has grown (to include two more teams) and the city’s needs have evolved and we feel this is the right move at the right time.”

It was also announced on Tuesday that Canadian Sports Hall of Famer and Lou Marsh winner Dr. Bruce Kidd will lead the Foundation. Kidd, currently the Dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Health at the University of Toronto, will lead the foundation on a volunteer basis.

“I consider myself lucky to have lived a life in sport and over the years I have seen time and time again how sport can make a difference in the lives of all Canadians regardless of your socio-economic background,” said Kidd.

“We will raise the bar on our fundraising efforts, to grow the funds that can be devoted to facility renewal and grants. And we will say to everyone—the teams' loyal fans, players, governments, other foundations and agencies—that the status quo is unacceptable. It is simply not good enough for so many children and youth to go without safe places to learn and play.”

Dr. Kidd will report to a volunteer board that includes General Rick Hillier, former chief of defence staff, Aris Kaplanis, who will serve as vice chair of the Team Up Foundation, Joe Halstead, former Commissioner of Economic Development, Culture and Tourism, Joel Rose, partner, Aird and Berlis, LLP, Vijay Kanwar, president, KMH Cardiology and Diagnostic Centres and Leafs Legend Wendel Clark. Maple Leafs Hall of Famer, Darryl Sittler will join the board in 2010. Former Raptors Foundation chairman, The Honourable Lincoln Alexander, will serve as Chair Emeritus.

In the last 15 years, the Leafs Fund and Raptors Foundation have raised close to $30 million for disadvantaged kids. Over the past four years alone, MLSE has invested approximately $1.6 million in building and refurbishing 13 rinks, six courts and three soccer pitches through its legacy program.

The Team Up Foundation will be at work Tuesday, December 8 at the Ramsden Park rink in Toronto. The refurbishment, funded by the MLSE Team Up Foundation and Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department, will include the installation of new rink boards, renovated dressing rooms, new benches and a fresh coat of paint for many areas of the facility.

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