OSEG's new charity to keep kids active exceeds expectations, raises $1.25M

OSEG Foundation hosts reception on Grey Cup Game day for its founding donors
OSEG Foundation
From left, John Bassi and Paul McCarney strike a pose alongside Grey Cup-winning quarterback Henry Burris, Maria Bassi and Rick Iafelice at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup championship game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

A new charitable organization launched by the same group of businessmen who brought professional football back to Ottawa has scored the equivalent of a 109-yard touchdown.

In its first four months, the OSEG (Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group) Foundation has raised $1.25 million with the backing of 25 community-minded business leaders and philanthropists. That's above and beyond the foundation's original goal of 20 donors and $1 million.

"It's a fantastic start to the foundation; we really appreciate it," Roger Greenberg told those donors who attended a thank-you reception hosted prior to Sunday's snowy Grey Cup game at TD Place Stadium.

The funds will be invested in the community, helping to level the playing field so that more children and youth have the opportunity to benefit from the power of sport. 

"We really want to try and focus on our goals in the foundation to helping those in the community who can’t afford to participate in sports," said Greenberg, who donned a matching Redblacks cap and jersey. "We also want to try and train amateur coaches, individuals and volunteers who are helping kids get off the couch, so that they are active in sports."

Greenberg, executive chairman of Minto Group and of OSEG, was joined by two of his OSEG business partners, John Ruddy (Trinity Development), and Bill Shenkman (Shenkman Corporation). They are among the founding donors who have each pledged $50,000 to the new foundation, which was started in July. 

Also there were the foundation’s new executive director, Janice Barresi, and its honorary president, retired Redblacks quarterback Henry Burris. He brought along his infectious smile and positive energy.

“He’s such a shrinking violet,” quipped Greenberg.

OSEG Foundation
From left, OSEG Foundation honorary president Henry Burris with Bill Shenkman, Janice Barrresi, Roger Greenberg and John Ruddy at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup Game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips

OSEG owns and operates the Ottawa Redblacks, the Ottawa Fury and the Ottawa 67’s sports teams, as well as TD Place stadium and arena, at the redeveloped Lansdowne Park. Bernie Ashe, chief executive officer of OSEG, donned the Redblacks' trademark plaid lumberjack shirt. So did Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell.

More than half of the donors attended. They filed into the Minto office building on Bank Street and headed up to the Commissioner's Gameday Lounge overlooking the football field, where Toronto beat Calgary later that night. After the reception, the guests headed to the Aberdeen Pavilion for the VIP Tailgate Party.

Seen from the Ottawa construction industry were John Bassi, president of Bassi Construction; Paul McCarney, senior vice president at Tomlinson Group of Companies; Robert Merkley, president of Merkley Supply Ltd., and Kathleen Grimes and Ersin Ozerdinc from Site Preparation Ltd.

Real estate executive Paul Hindo (who became our city's most famous lottery winner this year) and his wife, Alison, are also behind the cause. So are Gary Zed and fellow founding donor Liza Mrak, co-owner of Mark Motors, an Audi and Porsche dealership.

OSEG Foundation
From left, Paul Hindo with Bernie Ashe, Janice Barresi, Rick Campbell and Robert Merkley at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup Game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
OSEG Foundation
From left, Ersin Ozerdinc and Kathleen Grimes with Maureen Shenkman and Bill Shenkman at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup championship game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
OSEG Foundation
From left, Rick Campbell with Liza Mrak and Gary Zed at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup Game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Other founding donors at the reception were Shawn Rivers, president of Anish Branding; Peter Hudson, founder and CEO of HTG Sports Services; Rick Iafelice, president of Main and Main Developments, Shawn Lamarche, owner of Lamarche Electric, David Maxwell, president of La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries, and Kevin McCrann, president of Shenkman.

The list of founding donors also includes the Shabinsky and the Taggart-Parkes families, lawyer Don Bayne, general contractor Dennis Laurin and his wife, Andrea, Greenberg's brother Robert Greenberg and cousin Dan Greenberg, with wife Barbara Crook, and OSEG partner John Pugh and his wife, Christine.

Unfortunately, the Redblacks didn't make it to the championship this year, following their spectacular Grey Cup win in 2016.

"Next year," said Greenberg, his voice sounding hopeful. "We can't win it every year, right? It's just not fair to the other teams."

OSEG Foundation
From left, Peter Hudson with Rick Campbell and Henry Burris at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup Game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
OSEG Foundation
Shawn Lamarche and Elyse Lamarche at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup Game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
OSEG Foundation
David Maxwell and Jennifer Maxwell with OSEG Foundation honorary president Henry Burris, centre, at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup Game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
OSEG Foundation
From left, Roger Greenberg shows a little bling alongside Alison Hindo and Paul Hindo at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup Game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
OSEG Foundation
OSEG Foundation's honorary president, Henry Burris, has a shy little one on his hands as he poses with Bill Shenkman's grandson at a reception held prior to the Grey Cup Game on Sunday, November 26, 2017, for founding donors of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's new charitable foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips. 
OSEG Foundation
Henry Burris works his magic and, seconds later, it's all giggles and smiles. Photo by Caroline Phillips

- caroline@obj.ca