COLLINGWOOD – To really understand the longest-running fundraiser for the Canadian Shaare Zedek Hospital Foundation, think back to February 2007, the year before Ontario instituted Family Day. For Toronto residents, the winter stretched from New Year’s Day to Good Friday with no default vacation.
“On the Slopes for Candy was a miniature mid-winter break,” said Philip Black, who co-chaired this year’s ski day with Jordan Glaser.
The calendar has changed but not the event’s enduring appeal. Last week, about 170 people joined for the 18th edition, at the Alpine Ski club near Collingwood, to dull the effects of a cold snap and grab some time on freshly-powdered slopes.
“I don’t think that there’s another [non-school] ski day event on the Jewish calendar,” says Black.
The more-than $115,000 Cdn raised will help purchase a respirator for Shaare Zedek hospital’s new neonatal intensive care unit in Jerusalem, the largest in Israel.
The foundation handled all the logistics. At around 7 a.m., optional coach buses collected passengers from two locations – centrally and just north of the city – and even provided coffee and muffins en route. Breakfast, a hot lunch and pick-me-ups followed throughout the day.
For skiers and snowboarders, the day offered some of the best ski runs in the province and, for beginners, complementary lessons and a learning curve. The less adventurous could enjoy a guided snowshoeing tour, and those in need of pampering hopped on the bus to nearby Scandinave Spa.
The event is named for Candy Schaffel Black – Philip’s wife – who succumbed to colon cancer in 2011 at the age of 52, after an eight-year bout with the disease. Black, who has spearheaded the day since its third year, remembers the scene about a month after Candy died.
“We had 60 or 70 people at that time … because I had pulled away for a year or two while Candy was sick, and although the people who were involved did a great job, it’s hard to keep the motivation,” he tells The CJN. “And I was sad. I said, ‘I have to get really involved in this,’ or maybe it was the president at the time, David Smith, who said, ‘you’ve got to get really involved again.’”
Black hopes to eclipse 200 skiers next year, when the Alpine Club opens a new chalet, but he dreams of eventually reaching 300 or 400 participants. His growth strategy: positioning the foundation’s fundraiser as an umbrella opportunity for corporate or Jewish organizations.
“I want to get more groups involved,” says Black, a veteran entrepreneur, “so if I have my numbers, everything falls into place. We do it all, so you can use it for staff events, and you can call it your ski day, whichever groups want to get involved, and even have their own meeting room. The groups don’t have to worry about anything.”