Catching up with UHN Impact Collective Members Tommy Sorbara and Pouya Fattahi

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“It’s an unbelievable experience seeing the way our fundraising has directly touched the lives of so many in such a personal way.”

Since its launch in early 2020, the UHN Impact Collective (UIC) has raised awareness and financial support for the research and health care initiatives of University Health Network (UHN), through Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation. With an emphasis on community-building and knowledge-sharing, UIC encompasses a group of next-generation leaders who volunteer their time and expertise to advance the future of health care in Canada. With more pressure on our healthcare system than ever before, UIC’s philanthropy-driven programs are crucial in a national effort to keep Canadians healthy.

We spoke with UIC members Tommy Sorbara, Associate at Wildeboer Dellelce LLP and Pouya Fattahi, Investment Advisor at BMO Nesbitt Burns, about what inspired their membership, the power of fundraising and the upcoming Virtual Ride For Rehab fundraiser. 

How did you become involved with the UHN Impact Collective? 

Pouya: About a year and a half ago, my wife and I attended an event in partnership with the Ajmera Transplant Centre at Toronto General Hospital. I was blown away with the research being conducted and knew immediately that I needed to be involved in any capacity I could. Now, as a member of UIC and ambassador for Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, I’ve been privileged to meet some unbelievable health professionals and volunteers who really care about changing the world for the better.

Tommy: Several years ago my father experienced a life-threatening health emergency. I was amazed at how the practitioners and support staff at the Toronto Western Hospital Neurovascular Unit helped make a terrifying situation into something hopeful. After my father recovered, I felt a natural pull to give back to an institution that played such a critical role to my family’s well-being during a very difficult time.

What role does fundraising play in the health care advancements at UHN? 

Pouya: We’re grateful for our supportive donors and the impact of their generosity. The Ajmera Transplant Centre is the largest and most successful transplant centre in North America, performing more than 800 transplants each year. It’s an unbelievable experience seeing the way our fundraising has directly touched the lives of so many in such a personal way.

Tommy: Over the last year, it has been incredible to see our community come forward to support our hospitals and frontline staff. With our initiatives and the generosity of donors, we raised funds for the UHN COVID-19 Emergency Fund, supporting the highest-priority needs of the hospitals. This philanthropy has helped protect our frontline workers, fuel vital research and enhance patient care to save more lives.

What challenges brought on by the pandemic have you faced in your fundraising efforts?

Pouya: I think one of our biggest challenges has been the inability to connect face-to-face, which can definitely feel isolating. Thankfully, with technology, we’ve been able to pivot and redirect our in-person events to go virtual. This has especially been embraced through programs like the Serving Knowledge Supper Club in partnership with Toronto Life. 

Tommy: When the UIC came together in early 2020, we had no idea that only a few weeks later much of the world would come to a halt. Whether it be through hosting virtual events with leading practitioners, connecting us with donors or donating PPE, all of our members have stepped up to the challenge and kept momentum.

Are there any exciting fundraising projects you’re currently working on?

Tommy: We are always looking for creative and innovative ways to drive awareness and support for UHN. Pouya and I recently connected over a shared passion for fitness and our desire to support frontline health care workers. This led us to form our own team for the Virtual Ride for Rehab event, which is taking place from February 20 to February 27, 2021. Our shared goal is to raise $20,000—we’re welcoming anyone looking for a February challenge that supports a good cause to join our team, Riders for Frontliners! 

Pouya: Usually the event is held at First Canadian Place in downtown Toronto. This year, with the ride being virtual, anyone can join from anywhere in Canada. Collectively, we’ll be spanning a total of 8030 km—the distance of the Trans-Canada Highway. Participants can contribute their kilometres from home by cycling, rowing, running, etc.

How can people who maybe don’t have the financial means to donate, still get involved?

Tommy: I am happy to say that there are many ways people can support Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation. From becoming a volunteer with our UHN Impact Xchange (our new social media ambassador program) to setting up their own personal fundraising page—we believe that a healthier world starts by raising awareness in the community.

Pouya: Donating your time is an incredible way to make an impact! At UIC, we love to have passionate and committed people in our corner. There’s a lot that needs to be done and volunteering is truly a big help. You’ll find along the way that the giving spirit is really contagious. Connect with us here.