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Raymond Chang Honoured at Holland Bloorview

Holland Bloorview is renaming the East Wing of the hospital, the “G. Raymond Chang Wing” in recognition of the well-known philanthropist and his family’s exceptional support of the hospital that spans well over a decade.

(The East Wing houses the hospital’s music and arts centre; dental services; the Complex Continuing Care unit; Orthotics and Prosthetics; and other services and programs.)

“My initial reaction was to say ‘No’, because Ray’s preference was to donate quietly without the recognition,” said his son, Andrew. But upon further reflection, Andrew and his sister, Brigette, felt compelled to recognize Ray’s passion for the work of Holland Bloorview.

“It’s important to keep his legacy alive and hopefully inspire other individuals to be generous in their philanthropic endeavors,” said Andrew.    

That legacy began in 2006, when the Raymond Chang Foundation first became connected to Holland Bloorview.

“It was a natural fit,” said Andrew. “Holland Bloorview provides kids with the solutions they need to overcome barriers, provides caregivers with the knowledge and tools to assist kids on their journey, and researchers with the resources to develop, advance, and share the suite of solutions available.”

In 2013, Mr. Chang gave a $3 million gift to establish the Raymond Chang Foundation Chair in Access Innovations, currently held by Dr. Tom Chau, Vice President of Research at Holland Bloorview and Director of the Bloorview Research Institute (BRI).

“Ray was impressed with the research and innovation within the hospital, and the impact the discoveries were having on improving the quality of life for Holland Bloorview clients,” said Andrew. “In particular, Ray was impressed with Tom’s intelligence and his work.”

“I first met Raymond in 2006. He was one of the most compassionate and humble men I’ve ever known,” said Julia Hanigsberg, Holland Bloorview’s President and CEO. “It didn’t surprise me at all to learn that he was inspired by the work of Holland Bloorview and that he wanted to commit his resources to extend the impact of research.”

Thanks to his support Dr. Chau has been able to develop a collection of novel access technologies for non-verbal children and youth living with severe disabilities.

Examples of work enabled by the Raymond Chang Foundation include a new vocal classifier that can understand keywords spoken by children with severe dysarthria, and a new headband that accurately tracks eye gaze and detects eye blinks.

“Most recently, the Chang family’s support has allowed non-invasive brain-computer interface research to advance more rapidly than otherwise possible; by thought alone, we can now enable communication and environmental control in the absence of functional speech and movements,” said Dr. Chau.

Far from finished, earlier this year the Raymond Chang Foundation made a $2 million gift to the Bloorview Research Institute (BRI) help to establish a commercialization zone and incubator space as part of the BRI’s growth strategy.

“It made sense as an effort towards pursuing long-term sustainability,” said Andrew. “It’s amazing to have great ideas, but it’s also important to develop a strategy to ensure that the sustainability of research projects,” he continued. “By having a commercialization zone, Holland Bloorview can financially benefit from their own innovations through partnerships and revenue-generating activities.”

That research will also translate into ongoing advances and improvements in care and therapy for all clients, including those in the East Wing.

“I look forward to hearing about success, in terms of kids becoming independent, self-sufficient, exploring the world around them, and finding ways to become more engaged with family, friends, and society,” said Andrew.   

He also hopes that this naming broadens Holland Bloorview’s circle of friends, attracting new donors, government support and partnerships. All they have to do is step in the door and see for themselves, he believes.

“One tour of Holland Bloorview’s facilities is all it takes to understand the importance and enormous impact the hospital has on the lives of its clients and their families,” he said.  

“The children that pass through the halls of Holland Bloorview deserve every opportunity to learn and grow into their best selves.”

“We’re honoured to add his name to our building and grateful to his children for continuing his legacy of generosity and visionary leadership,” said Julia.