Nineteen months ago, James Cybulski became the proud father of a baby girl. Two weeks ago, Cybulski, a TSN host, was moved by images of Haitian children trapped in buildings, orphaned and suffering.
“Being a parent really shifted my perspective on the world,” he said. “I watched young kids being pulled from fallen buildings and I knew I had to do what I could to make a difference before the focus of the world shifted away from them.”
Initially, Cybulski planned a small fundraiser at a pub on King Street in Toronto. He contacted Darrin Pfieffer , a radio host with 102.1 The Edge. Pfieffer liked the idea, but thought they should take it one step further.
“He said, ‘I have this idea.’ I responded by saying, ‘Let’s kick this up a couple notches and see what happens,’” Pfieffer said.
Within 24 hours, Pfieffer had spoken with Zeke Myers, an event planner with The Edge and he secured The Sound Academy on the Toronto waterfront as a venue. Days later, a meeting at The Edge’s studio attracted Canadian music heavyweights The Trews and others, who offered their time and talent to a concert fundraiser at The Sound Academy.
The event gained momentum via buzz on FaceBook. And last night, more than 1,800 arrived for the entertainment and to contribute. For some, such as 19-year-old Michael Sehl, it was a first concert experience.
“Music is really a common interest with kids our age,” Sehl said. “So you feel really connected when you do something like this. It’s fun, but it also has more meaning to it.”
The event raised $32,000 for UNICEF. The donations will be matched by the federal government. Cybulski reacted with surprise to the event’s success.
“We really didn’t have any time to be overwhelmed by the response. I had never done anything like this before and seeing it come together so quickly was surreal,” he said.