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Hatsquerade a roaring success

Hatsquerade a roaring success

Over 700 guests attended the Hats On For Awareness Eighth Annual Hatsquerade gala — with the mandate Wear A Hat Show Your Support. Raise Awareness — in October, raising over $125,000 to battle the stigma around mental illness.

The funds will be distributed to organizations that provide support to those living with mental illness and their families.

Hats On For Awareness has raised over $600,000 to date. Recipients of donations include the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Jack.org and Humber River Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program.

Enza Tiberi-Checchia, co-founder of HOA, shares the story of her journey from mental illness to mental wellness.

Enza Tiberi-Checchia, co-founder of HOA, shares the story of her journey from mental illness to mental wellness.

Enza Tiberi-Checchia, co-founder of Hats On For Awareness, spoke passionately from the heart about her personal experience with mental illness.

“Mental illness did not break me. It broke me open,” she said. “Mental illness connected me to my life’s work; to change how we see and treat mental illness. I face my life’s work with humility and great privilege. Every person we’ve lost and every roommate I had while I was hospitalized, stand alongside me.”

Hats On For Awareness co-founders Enza Tiberi-Checchia and Benny Caringi take a moment to acknowledge Enza’s courage to share her story and encourage others to do same.

Hats On For Awareness co-founders Enza Tiberi-Checchia and Benny Caringi take a moment to acknowledge Enza’s courage to share her story and encourage others to do same.

Tiberi-Checchia also shared a heartfelt message from one of many HOA’s followers, who reached out via social media about his recent diagnosis of depression and the impact HOA has had on him personally. Validating HOA’s mission of letting those who suffer in silence know that they are not alone, an excerpt read: “I just wanted to thank you for all your messages about this affliction. It helps more than you know and makes me feel not so alone.”

The trio of Wanda Corbiere, Amira Assal and Laura Brereton won the Best Female Hat contest, wearing their hats to “shine a light” on mental illness.

The trio of Wanda Corbiere, Amira Assal and Laura Brereton won the Best Female Hat contest, wearing their hats to “shine a light” on mental illness.

“The enormous support from our sponsors, guests and volunteers this evening has been overwhelming,” noted co-founder of HOA president Benny Caringi. “We are truly thankful for everyone’s contributions that will allow us to continue our mission to raise awareness and fund support programs for those living with mental illness and addiction. Our vision is ‘mental wellness for all’ and we need to be drivers of change to help make that a reality for everyone.”

Anthony Ricciardi, talented Toronto-born artist, created this colourful work of art live onstage. The painting was then auctioned for proceeds to the charity.

Anthony Ricciardi, talented Toronto-born artist, created this colourful work of art live onstage. The painting was then auctioned for proceeds to the charity.

The evening was emceed by Tony Monaco, Z103.5 radio announcer, with feature performances from Kardinal Offishall and Alx Veliz.

Offishall, well-known Canadian “hip hop ambassador,” delivered an outstanding performance while embracing the cause whole-heartedly.

Alx Veliz thrilled the crowd with his performance, including joining guests on the dance floor to sing his gold single “Dancing Kizomba.”

Alx Veliz thrilled the crowd with his performance, including joining guests on the dance floor to sing his gold single “Dancing Kizomba.”

“I’m letting you know that we have to break the stigma and learn to seek help and help others. Many people of colour are taught to ignore or suppress some very detrimental signs that could actually help us prevent or heal mental illnesses,” Offishall posted to his Instagram feed.

“It was an honour to be a part of such a great cause, as well as being surrounded by people whom are making a positive change in the world., “said Veliz.

Kardinal Offishall showcased outstanding energy in both his onstage singing performance and in his support of raising awareness and money to fight against mental illness.

Kardinal Offishall showcased outstanding energy in both his onstage singing performance and in his support of raising awareness and money to fight against mental illness.

Francesco Sorbara, MP for Vaughan-Woodbridge, commended Hats On For Awareness and co-founders Caringi and Tiberi-Checchia for their dedication.

“Your passion for giving and your love for helping others in need is what helps to bring our community together,” Sorbara said.

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