MONTREAL — It was standing room only as usual at the recent annual Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors (CJCS) Foundation Sports Celebrity Breakfast as it honoured a couple of figures who are almost god-like in Montreal: retired Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo, and former Canadiens Stanley Cup coach Jacques Demers.
Calvillo, a 20-season legend and pro football’s all-time passing yards leader who has won three Grey Cup rings, was the breakfast’s sports personality of the year.
And Demers, now a Canadian senator, was guest of honour for his multitude of accomplishments, including coaching Canada’s hockey team twice at Israel’s Maccabiah Games.
Another reason to celebrate: it was the event’s milestone 10th anniversary.
Don’t let the CJCS “seniors” name fool you: among the 600 who showed up for lox, bagels and autographs were kids galore vying for signatures they could keep for posterity.
The event, with breakfast vets Mike Cohen and André Marchand as MCs, included its first live feed, a silent sports memorabilia auction and special interviews from the “VIP” room, which was re-located to roomier digs, since it always felt more crowded than the breakfast hall.
“This 10th anniversary marks a significant milestone,” said foundation president Bram Besner and director Cathy Simons in the massive 64-page tabloid-style program book.
Breakfast co-chairs Mike Wagen and Bram Naimer said that since its inception, the breakfast has raised more than $1 million for CJCS’s Seniors in Crisis program.
This year, the total was over $190,000.
“In 2012, [CJCS] saw a 35 per cent increase in dollars spent for crisis needs,” Wagen said.
So how good was the guest list?
How about Habs’ legend Guy Lafleur, or broadcasting great Dick Irvin, who received the Larry Fredericks Media Award from sportswriter nonpareil Red Fisher?
Or how about former Habs’ Patrice Brisebois and the Montreal Alouettes’ Scott Flory and Luc Brodeur? Or great former Olympic diver Alexandre Despatie? And many more.
Almost as impressive was the list of bagel fressers. They included David Birnbaum, who was just 24 hours away from becoming an MNA for the first time – in D’Arcy McGee; Denis Lebel, federal infrastructures minister for Quebec; senators Judith Seidman and Leo Housakos, and Cote St. Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather.
Even Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent greetings!