Art auction raises funds for Sunny View

[attach]5039[/attach]About 200 people packed into the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital on the evening of Oct. 17 to receive a special treatment — the red carpet treatment.

Former NHL stars Tie Domi and Paul Coffey joined the guests at the Able Artists Auction, an event where paintings by 42 children with disabilities from Sunny View Public School were auctioned off to raise money for the school.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with how this evening has gone,” said Christopher Hopper, chair of the Sunny View Youth Involvement Association. “The generosity of these bidders tonight is staggering.”

A total of $95,500 was raised from the eight pieces sold during the live auction, which was hosted by Canadian Olympic alpine skier Karen Stemmle.

A painting by Charles Pachter, who is most well known for his hockey murals inside College Station, was the only piece in the auction not made by Sunny View students. He donated his painting entitled “Bay Watch 2010” to the auction and it sold for $24,000.

Another 50 paintings sat on tables for guests to bid on during the silent auction as wait staff served hors d’oeuvres.

Organizers were hoping to raise enough money for a new state-of-the-art communications lab at Sunny View, which will be a joint venture between the hospital and the Toronto District School Board.

[attach]5040[/attach]“The fundamental reason for putting on the event tonight was to help close the gap on our fundraising for the Infinite Access Lab at Sunny View,” said Hopper. “We’re raising $440,000 in order to create a lab where world-renowned scientists can help kids who are unable to communicate, either verbally or through gesture, to find a pathway to communicate.”

Sunny View student, 15-year-old Istarlin Mohamud has no problem communicating. Before the auction she rolled up the stage in her wheelchair and told the guests her story. After contracting polio at a Somalian refugee camp, Istarlin came to Canada in 2008 without knowing any English. She now speaks three languages and American Sign Language, but still counts art as her favourite subject.

“Art has helped me through a lot of tough times,” she said during her speech. “Art makes me feel happy and forget about all of the worries in the world. When I feel sick art keeps my mind off of the pain and keeps me distracted.”

Istarlin’s painting, which she made with her friend Ronnie, is called “Fast Tires”. It was made by the pair driving their wheelchairs over various colours of paint spread on the canvas. “Fast Tires” sold for $5,000.

The highest bid of the live auction was $25,000 for a piece entitled “Dripping Rain.”

Hopper estimated the evening would bring Sunny View halfway to its fundraising goal. The gap still exists despite a $25 million donation made by the rehab hospital’s current namesake Bill Holland, chair of CI Financial, who has also donated to the hospital in the past.

“The more I got to see it the more I thought it was a better place than most — a better place than all, to help out,” he said.