MLSE’s Leiweke joins Arlene Dickinson to Lead Executive Sleep Out for Homeless Kids

TORONTO, ON, October 31, 2013 – Tim Leiweke, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) president and CEO, is joining Arlene Dickinson, CEO of Venture Communications and and venture capitalist on the CBC series Dragons’ Den, to lead business and community leaders as they sleep out for homeless kids at Covenant House Toronto.

The second annual Covenant House Executive Sleep Out expects 80 participants to spend the night of Nov. 21 outside with only a sleeping bag and a piece of cardboard. They will raise funds and awareness to help Covenant House Toronto care for about 3,000 youth annually who rely on its support. Last year's event raised over $500,000.

The Sleep Out co-chairs are challenging more business leaders to come on board to participate.

“We’ve set the bar higher this year, and we’re confident the Toronto business community will continue to get behind these kids,” says Dickinson. “It is unacceptable that there are kids who are without a place to call home in our city – one of the most prosperous cities in the world.”

Dickinson, who headed up last year’s inaugural event, says “I believe strongly in the important work Covenant House does so I just couldn’t not participate again. Covenant House offers a foundation for kids who are struggling and helps to give them the best possible chance at getting off the street.”

Starbucks’ President Annie Young-Scrivner, Porter Airlines’ President Robert Deluce, Entertainment Broadcaster Ben Mulroney, Fashionista Jeanne Beker, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair and Duncan Hannay, Senior Marketing VP at Scotiabank, will be among the participants getting a small glimpse of the hardships kids can face on the street.

“As a new Torontonian, I wanted to get involved and be a part of the solution for issues facing the community,” Leiweke explains. “Homelessness for anyone, but especially youth, is a problem that we must tackle together. I’m proud to co-chair this event but I think my part in this will be much easier compared to what homeless youth face on the street.”

Bruce Rivers, executive director of Covenant House Toronto, the country’s largest homeless youth agency, says there are an estimated 10,000 homeless youth in Toronto during any given year and as many as 2,000 on a given night. “When kids don’t have to worry about where they’re going to sleep or where their next meal is coming from, they can focus on their futures,” Rivers says. “This event not only helps raise much-needed funds to help our kids but it also focuses public attention on the plight of homeless youth.”

More than a place to stay, Covenant House provides 24/7 crisis shelter and a longer-term residential program along with comprehensive services, including education, counselling, health care, employment assistance and job training. To do all this, we rely on donors for 80 percent of our $20-million annual operating budget.

Contact: Rose Cino
Manager, Communications
(416) 204-7081

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