Former Toronto Raptor Pascal Siakam may return to the city on Valentine’s Day wearing a different team jersey, but he’s still committed to supporting an East York hospital.
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital confirmed to the Toronto Observer that Siakam and his not-for-profit organization, The PS43 Foundation, will continue to support the hospital despite Siakam being traded from the Toronto Raptors to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 17.
Christine Hill, Senior Manager of Engagement at the Holland Bloorview Foundation has “assurance from [Siakam’s] foundation that he’ll continue to support Holland Bloorview and our kids and youth.”
The Toronto Observer reached out to The PS43 Foundation, but has not received a response.
This support will include the promotion of the 2024 Capes for Kids campaign and social media content about the campaign that features the former Toronto player.
No time or date was given for when these promotions and content will be released.
What is Capes for Kids?
Capes for Kids is a yearly event that fundraises money for Holland Bloorview through individuals who donate and start their own campaigns that promote the fundraiser, all assisted by sponsors that donate to the cause.
The inaugural Capes for Kids campaign took place in 2017 and Siakam has been a consistent supporter of that event since The PS43 Foundation was founded in April 2021.
The foundation was created to honor the legacy of Siakam’s late father, Tchamo Siakam, who believed in the importance of education.
“We want to empower kids through education and make sure that we allow them to dream no matter what the situation is, no matter where they come from, no matter the colour of their skins,” Siakam told CityNews.
In February 2023, Holland Bloorview and The PS43 Foundation collaborated with Raptors 905 to host a Capes for Kids night. Siakam donated CAD $100,000 to the hospital as a part of that event and his support helped motivate the 2,854 people in attendance to break the Guinness world record for most capes worn at an event.
That wasn’t the first time Siakam donated to the hospital. He gave a $100,000 donation in September 2021, and met with young students from the Bloorview School Authority, the hospital’s onsite school.
Hill worked with Pascal directly to set up events like the meet-and-greet and praised Siakam to the Toronto Observer.
“Pascal is a wonderful human,” Hill said. “I describe him as a gentle giant. He’s got a really imposing height and is very warm and is very sweet. He’s great with the kids, a natural.”
Hill told the Toronto Observer that the cumulative $200,000 Siakam donated has helped the hospital fund new tools and programs to aid the families that are in care.
Two of the initiatives that were supported by the funding include a social screening tool as a part of the family navigation hub, a system that helps identify the social needs of families that are in the hospital, and a music-therapy program.
According to Hill, the creation of the music-therapy program aligned with Siakam’s love of music.
Siakam joined the Raptors after he was selected 27th overall during the 2016 NBA Draft. He would go on to help the Raptors win the franchise’s first championship in 2019.
In the aftermath of the trade to Indiana, Siakam left a thank-you message on the PS43 Foundation’s website.
“While my job may take me away for a while, Toronto and Canada will always be my home, and [The PS43 Foundation] will continue to help improve the lives of Canadian youth and build on the successes we have had,” Siakam said in his thank-you message.
Siakam will play his first game against the Raptors when the Pacers land in Toronto Feb. 14. Tip-off for Toronto Raptors vs. Indiana Pacers is 7:30 p.m. at Scotiabank Arena.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Siakam’s 2021 visit to Holland Bloorview Kids Hospital was outdoors. It was held indoors.