MONTREAL, May 15, 2012 – Vincent Massey Collegiate graduate Andrew Zaccardo was the inspiration for the school’s second annual Charity Fashion Gala, which raised more than $29,000 to benefit the Montreal General Hospital Foundation and the McGill Scoliosis and Spine Group of the McGill University Health Centre.
Andrew’s life changed in September 2010 after suffering a fractured vertebra during a hockey match while playing as a forward for the Laval Patriotes. Thanks to his determination, he made considerable progress and was able to graduate with his classmates last year. Now 17, Andrew is continuing his rehabilitation, but his perseverance and remarkable improvement have served as an inspiration for the entire school.
This is why he was chosen to be honoured at the school’s second annual Charity Fashion Gala held in March. Attended by more than 600 people and supported by many sponsors from the community, this year’s event benefited the Montreal General Hospital and spinal cord research at the request of Andrew and his parents.
“When the teachers asked me if I’d be okay with having this year’s Charity Fashion Gala centred on my story, I couldn’t have been more honoured,” Andrew said, adding that he knew right away he wanted the proceeds to support spinal cord injury research projects at the Montreal General Hospital, where he received his care and rehabilitation.
“This was my way to thank them for the care they’ve given me,” he added. “In the end, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed to see all the hard work that went into creating such an event, but also to have my family, friends, and school community there to support me, and even more importantly, to support research in spinal cord injuries and surgeries.”
Cassandra Bauco, one of the teacher organizers of the event, said the students were immediately inspired by Andrew’s story and that excitement for the event became contagious.
“The spirit of generosity is a hallmark of our school community. Our students’ awareness and eagerness to help others has always been heartwarming, but even more so in this case,” Bauco said. “Everyone came together and the fundraising efforts to honour this VMC grad were unprecedented, not to mention very personal… and for that, I couldn’t be more proud.”
The money will support the McGill Scoliosis and Spine Group at the Montreal General Hospital, a multidisciplinary comprehensive spine centre managing all aspects of spinal surgery. The funds will go to research activities related to the prevention of secondary spinal cord injury.
“We are overwhelmed by the generosity exhibited by all that donated to this very important cause,” said Dr. Rudy Reindl, an orthopedic surgeon and member of the McGill Scoliosis and Spine Group.
“With ever decreasing governmental funding for basic research, significant funds like this help maintain important research activities that help us understand and hopefully treat devastating spinal cord injuries. Our ultimate goal is to devise a successful treatment that would permit patients like Andrew Zaccardo to walk again.”