James Duncan hits a home run for kids with disabilities

James, the Director of Sales and Trading at ITG Canada Corp, is the founder and president of the Bay Street Children’s Foundation – an organization that has been supporting Holland Bloorview for 20 years through its signature Bay Street Pro-Celebrity Softball Challenge.

Ahead of this year's event, his Foundation has committed to raising another $250,000 for Holland Bloorview.

James first became connected to Holland Bloorview through his daughter, Lindsay, who has cerebral palsy and benefitted from Holland Bloorview’s care for 15 years, when James and his family moved to Toronto in 1995. He remembers the anxiousness with not knowing where to turn after her diagnosis.

“You’re lost and there is no manual that comes with having a child with cerebral palsy,” said James. “You don’t know what to do or where to go, but Holland Bloorview was always so welcoming, so warm. For any family using the hospital’s services, you quickly know you’re getting the very best care in North America.”

Inspired by the hospital’s commitment to helping kids with disabilities and their families, James wanted to give back and came up with idea for a softball event from popular recreation leagues he played in while living in Vancouver.

His Toronto event started small in the summer of 1996 with just six teams, primarily brokers and traders wanting to support a good cause. But word spread quickly and more teams wanted to take part.

The event became so popular, teams from across Canada and south of the border made the trip each summer, as did NHL alumni who traded hockey sticks for bats to join in the fun.  

Suddenly, the event attracted as many as 24 teams playing over two days, and the event grew from an afternoon to a lively Friday night cocktail party, a jam-packed schedule of softball games over a weekend and a closing banquet.

Through the years, the Bay Street Children’s Foundation has helped fund several projects at Holland Bloorview. He is especially proud of his support of the construction of the hospital’s new building in 2006, including new therapy gymnasiums, where his Foundation’s name is displayed.

He’s also proud of the support for the hospital’s Activities of Daily Living Apartment. Consisting of a kitchen and living area, this specially designed space assists children and youth with disabilities in developing independence and daily living skills.

James is hoping his batting and fielding skills will be sharp for this year’s event which is scheduled for July 8-9.  All six baseball diamonds at Toronto’s Riverdale Park will be filled with games, fun and laughter. James is expecting 16-18 teams, which works out to about 300 players. 

Looking forward to taking his favourite position at third base, James hopes his Bay Street Pro-Celebrity Softball Challenge raises $50,000 for Holland Bloorview. If you would like to join James on the diamond, (either as an individual or a team) visit www.baystreetkids.com for more information.