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A person's turning back and their Capes for Kids Capes is shown, in an office setting.

One moment can create an enduring impact

MacKinnon & Bowes has supported Holland Bloorview for 25 years, including $25,000 in donations and multiple Capes for Kids fundraising events.

Sometimes one simple gesture can lead to a decades-long history of friendship and support. That’s what happened when Allan Cole, owner and president of MacKinnon & Bowes funeral services, found out that Rheanne Peters, the niece of his employee Tina Graca, had experienced a severe acquired brain injury shortly after her first birthday, in 1999.

Allan asked Tina if there was anything he could do to help, and she said he could visit Rheanne at Holland Bloorview, where she was being cared for. And that’s how Allan and MacKinnon & Bowes launched 25 years of loyal support, which has included $25,000 in donations as well as many fundraising and awareness events focusing on Holland Bloorview and the annual Capes for Kids campaign.

“I did some soul-searching, like what did I just agree to?” Allan recalls of that first visit. “But when I held Rheanne in my arms, it was very powerful. I looked around the room and saw many other children who were similarly affected, and the only bright spot was that somebody cared. The people at Holland Bloorview cared, and they stepped up. And as a lay person, not having any previous experience in any of this, in the space of a few hours I had a life-altering experience.

“I appreciated what I could see around me: ‘Somebody’s doing this, somebody’s paying for this, somebody’s offering volunteer hours, what can I do?’” he adds. “I was operating a business, and there was really nothing else I could do except get out my chequebook. So I sat down and wrote a cheque. I just wanted to support what I witnessed there. And it went onward from there. It took on some momentum, as I encouraged other staff members to take an active interest and show our support.”

Allan and MacKinnon & Bowes have provided that support in a number of ways over the years, from personal donations by employees every holiday season to equipment loans and an annual event for Humber College students in which they fundraise for Capes for Kids. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Allan says. “We’ve raised a bit of money, and there have been various opportunities we’ve been able to promote through our social media page—whatever we can do to expand awareness.”

As it turned out, there was an additional Holland Bloorview connection for MacKinnon & Bowes.

“One Christmas we announced we were going to try to raise money for Holland Bloorview,” Allan says, “and one of our employees popped up and said, ‘Oh, I went there through my childhood.’ He’d been hit by a car and badly injured. You could tell it was a bit more effort for him to walk, but he was a terrific worker, and we were delighted to have him. And he said, ‘An enormous part of my childhood was spent with Holland Bloorview, trying to recover to the point where I could have a good life experience and gainful employment.’ It’s been a fantastic outcome for him, and he credits Holland Bloorview.

“It’s amazing, coming from a circumstance in which I didn’t even know this place existed to having been impacted in such a meaningful way by what they do.”