Do Me A Solid: Hope Rising!

On Wednesday, November 7, the second annual Hope Rising! benefit concert took place at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan and Angélique Kidjo performed (more on them in a bit!) to the sold-out crowd. The evening raised funds and awareness for the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF), an incredible organization that provides resources and support directly to grassroots organizations in 15 countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. 

The night kicked off with a small cocktail reception, where guests toasted Stephen Lewis on the occasion of his 75th birthday. While Lewis’ birthday isn’t until Sunday, Hope Rising! was the perfect chance to celebrate this remarkable man’s milestone birthday. Raising their glass to Lewis was his family, including daughter Ilana Landsberg-Lewis (executive director of the SLF), and friends such as Thandie Newton, Olivia Chow, Matt Galloway and Jeanne Beker. 

Photo: Kristina Laukkanen 

Jian Ghomeshi did a stellar job of hosting Hope Rising! He started off the night by addressing the big W that Barack Obama had won the night before and added levity to the evening. Plus, as one audience member heckled him about, he looked “real good” in a suit!

Annie Lennox kicked off the night by performing some of her classic tunes, including No More I Love You’s, Here Comes the Rain Again and There Must Be An Angel. Despite suffering from a cold, Lennox delivered a knock-out performance. She played a piano during her set and sipped tea in between songs. 

Photo: Cameron MacLennan

Sarah McLachlan also played her own music during her set – she was seated at a grand piano in the centre of the stage. During one of her songs, she was accompanied by three dancers from the Alberta Ballet (with whom McLachlan is collaborating with on a new original ballet). She ended with a stellar performance of her hit song, Angel. 

Photo: Kristina Laukkanen

Of all the evening’s performers, Angélique Kidjo was likely the least well-known to the audience, but no one at Roy Thomson Hall that night will ever forget her after her high-energy performance. A close friend of Stephen Lewis and the SLF, Kidjo, her band and her back-up singers had everyone in the room up on their feet dancing and singing along. Audiences couldn’t help but feel energized and positive after seeing her on-stage. 

Photo: Kristina Laukkanen

One of the highlights of the evening was definitely when Annie, Sarah and Angélique came together on stage to sing a gorgeous version of ‘Sweet Dreams’, the Eurythmics hit song from 1983. Then, as a surprise end to the evening, the entire group of performers (including d’bi young, African grandmothers and daughters and dancers from the Alberta Ballet) gathered to sing Happy Birthday to Stephen Lewis. It was a beautiful ending to an evening of positivity, hope and celebration.

Photo: Kristina Laukkanen

CIBC was the presenting sponsor and pledged a donation of $1 million to the SLF. In addition, over $250,000 was raised by Hope Rising! and we were humbled and honoured to be part of this very special night. 

Do Me A Solid: Dare To Wear Love

You may remember from last year that we have a special spot in our hearts for the Dare To Wear Love show that closes every other fashion week. We’re excited that we get to work on the show again on Friday, March 16, and it promises to be just as inspirational as always. 

Amid all of the hustle and bustle during fashion week that focuses on style, clothing and make up, it’s nice to take a step back and think about how all this fashionable effort can be channeled into helping those living with HIV/AIDS in African countries.

The talented duo behind Hoax Couture have teamed up the Fashion Design Council of Canada, a number of amazing Canadian designers and some fun personalities to create a one-of-a-kind fashion show in support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

There are still some unique bits of the show to be announced, but so far we’ve got some pretty exciting elements: 

Show attendees can participate in a live auction in support of SLF, with pretty spectacular prizes – including a trip for two to Kenya, (provided by the Canadian Kenya Tourist Board and VoX International) featuring a wildlife safari!

CBC correspondent Wendy Mesley walks the 2010 DTWL runway wearing Kingi Carpenter for Peach Berserk
Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage.

There will also be live entertainment during the show, and of course, the bright and colourful designs from various designers that include Brian Bailey, David Dixon, Adrian Wu, Paul Hardy, Linda Lundström and many other talented Canucks. 
Breakfast Television co-host Dina Pugliese walks the 2010 DTWL runway wearing Ines di Santo
Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage.
You’ll be sure to spot familiar faces strutting down the runway including TV hosts Dina Pugliese and Tracy Moore, one of Canada’s leading gospel singers Kathy Grant, and Donisha Prendergrast, granddaughter of the great Bob Marley. 

The show is always a sell out, so we’d recommend buying now. You can purchase tix here for $75 (or a VIP ticket for $300, which includes a front or second row seat and two (!) cocktail parties)

Do Me A Solid: Good Karma for 2012

Start 2012 off with some good karma. Here are a few great ways to give back to some very important causes. 

First up is the Dance to Conquer Cancer, hosted by the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation on Sunday, February 12. This groovy event is hosted by fitness fanatic
Richard Simmons, disco queen Gloria Gaynor and So You Think You Can Dance Canada’s Blake McGrath so you know the dance party is for serious.

If you raise a minimum of $500, you can dance alongside these all-stars during the four-hour dance-a-thon, while helping support high priority cancer research. If you’re shy about busting out your disco shoes, you can still enjoy dinner and Gloria Gaynor’s performance later that evening. 

This is all happening at the Paramount Conference and Event Centre, and you can register to participate or purchase tickets at


Dare Campaign, hosted by the Stephen Lewis Foundation

Curious about how you can help the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa? Easy. Just think of an interesting dare for yourself, set a fundraising goal, create a profile online and get started. Some options include an individual dare, like performing a night of solo stand-up comedy (or figure skate, like Strombo did); a group dare like organizing five people to participate in a marathon; or dare to dine where you invite your friends over for a homemade dinner in return for a donation.

All funds raised will support the grassroots organizations turning the tide of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. For more information on the Dare Campaign, please visit the site. For Dare inspirations, check out this video (one guy rode an Ostrich around Toronto for a day!)

Twitter: @StephenLewisFDN

Adopt an Animal, hosted by the World Wildlife Foundation

Symbolically adopt a species at risk including the giant panda, jaguar, orangutan, Emperor penguin, walrus, grey wolf and many more to help protect them from further harm. In return, receive a personalized adoption certificate, a high-quality plush stuffed animal, recycled gift bag and details on the work your gift will go towards. 

All funds raised will support the WWF’s conservation efforts. For more information on how you can adopt an animal, please visit

Twitter: @WWFCanada

There are lots of resolutions about being healthier, but let’s all make a resolution to give back whenever we can this year. 

Do Me A Solid: Stuart Knight’s Top Ten Event

Jumping from an airplane, kissing your high school crush, and climbing Mount Everest are the types of things that generally make it onto a bucket list. Stuart Knight has taken the bucket list concept one step further to create the Top Ten Event – a dynamic social evening with real meaning.

On Thursday, August 4, 10 high profile Canadians will come together at the Isabel Bader Theatre for the first Top Ten Event to share one thing people should know before they die. Each renowned speaker will share a life-changing piece of information based on their area of expertise or passion.

We love how this event combines a fun evening out with raising money and awareness for a wonderful organization. A portion of the proceeds for the event go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, supporting grassroots projects turning the tide of AIDS in Africa.

Here’s the lineup for the evening:

Rex Harrington, Artist-in-Residence at the National Ballet of Canada, and guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance Canada speaking, on Partnerships.

Rex Harrington
Image Source.

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and host of Risky Business, W. Brett Wilson, discussing Success.

W. Brett Wilson
Image source.

George Kourounis, storm chaser and host of OLN’s Angry Planet, will share tips on Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone.
George Kourounis
Image Source.

Philanthropist Lisa Ray will also be on the panel. As a successful actress, cancer survivor and having just launched a new yoga studio, Moksha Yoga Brampton, Ray will offer wisdom on Accepting Life.

Lisa Ray 
Image source.
Bruce Poon Tip, founder of GAP Adventures, speaking on Adventure.

Bruce Poon Tip
Image Source.

Shevaun Voisin, founder of Motivated magazine, will discuss the Power of Audacity.

Shevaun Voisin
Image source.

With first-hand experience as a medical professional working to make a difference in some of the worlds most war-torn areas, Dr. Samantha Nutt, founder of War Child Canada, will discuss Making a Difference. 

Dr. Samantha Nutt
Image source.

The beautiful Kelly Carlson (Nip/Tuck) will be on hand to discuss Manifesting Your Life.

Kelly Carlson
Image source.

Chef, cookbook author and co-owner of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Donna Dooher will speak on Food. 

Donna Dooher
Image source.

And last, but not least, music producer and Canadian Idol judge Jake Gold will share the one thing you should know about the Music Industry. 

Jake Gold
Image Source.

Tickets are open to the public and are on sale now ($40 and $60). Buy them here and join us for this inspirational evening! 

Rave: Hope Rising! Benefit Concert

The evening might have started off with a bit of rain, but the Sony Centre boasted a cheerful full house for the Hope Rising! concert, in support of our amazing client, the Stephen Lewis Foundation, this past Tuesday.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation brought together a sparkling line up of A-list performers, including Alicia Keys, K’naan, Rufus Wainwright, Angélique Kidjo, Jully Black, Holly Cole and Gloria Reuben. Harry Belafonte co-hosted a VIP roundtable dinner and discussion earlier in the evening, along with Stephen Lewis.

One of our fave moments came earlier in the day, while we were waiting for a few people to arrive at a hotel to participate in a few interviews. Angélique Kidjo walked into the lobby, bursting with personality and energy. The African grandmothers arrived soon after, and upon seeing Angélique, hugs, excited greetings and an impromptu dance-off started. It was loud, warm and genuine, and was a glimpse into what was to come later that night.  

Angélique Kidjo. Credit: Alexi Hay

Some of the best performances of the night came from the same African grandmothers who flew in especially for the event, and d’bi Young and Ngozi Paul. They helped bring some of the true flavours of Africa to the event.

Emcees Gloria Reuben, Marci Ien and Jian Ghomeshi did a fabulous job at keeping all 3,200 people at the Sony Centre entertained between performances.

One of the most rousing and touching speeches of the evening came from Stephen Lewis himself. His legendary eloquence and fine balance of humour and seriousness was perfect to introduce Alicia Keys, and remind everyone why they were there and how we can all help make a difference.

 Legendary singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte at Hope Rising!.

Alicia Keys, K’naan, Angélique Kidjo, Rufus Wainwright, Gloria Reuben, Jully Black and Holly Cole all acknowledged, in their own way, the tragedy that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has brought to the people in Africa and how charities like the Stephen Lewis Foundation are helping improve the lives of thousands of people. 

Alicia Keys belts out a hit at the piano during Hope Rising!.  
We’re so happy to have been a part of this event. We love that we got to share in a thrilling evening of raising awareness for a meaningful cause like this. 

All photos courtesy of Cameron MacLennan, unless otherwise noted. 

Do Me A Solid: Stephen Lewis Foundation

We’re thrilled to continue the Do Me A Solid series with The Stephen Lewis Foundation and their amazing upcoming event, Hope Rising!. 

On May 3, the first Hope Rising! annual benefit concert will be held at The Sony Center. Proceeds from the event benefit the Stephen Lewis Foundation, helping them support grassroots organizations at the frontlines of the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Alicia Keys and K’naan.
This will definitely be one of the concerts of the year, with a stellar lineup of artists. Alicia Keys, K’naan, Rufus Wainwright and Grammy Award-winning Angélique Kidjo headline the event, each performing some of their best-loved songs. As if that weren’t enough, the evening will also feature performances by Canada’s reigning R&B queen Jully Black, jazz songstress Holly Cole, and Lorraine Segato. Hosts Jian Ghomeshi, Marci Ien, and Gloria Reuben will also participate, making this evening truly spectacular.

Rufus Wainwright and Angélique Kidjo.

But, it’s not just a concert. The legendary Harry Belafonte will co-host a roundtable dinner and discussion with Stephen Lewis, providing a unique opportunity for philanthropists to discuss the real affect they can have in Africa with their donations.

Harry Belafonte. 

The night will also feature unique video shot in Africa, stories from African grandmothers who live in the midst of the pandemic, and other one-of-a-kind experiences. Hope Rising! is meant to celebratory and fun, sharing the joys and successes of the grassroots organizations working to turn the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

 Photo: Alexis MacDonald

These grassroots groups are lifelines for their communities: they provide care to women who are ill; assist orphans and other children affected by the AIDS pandemic; reach heroic grandmothers who care for their orphaned grandchildren; and support people living with HIV and AIDS.

Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster, or at 1-855-872-7659, and start at just $75. That is a serious bargain for this incredible cultural event that offers you a one-of-a-kind concert and the chance to help out people who truly need it across the globe.

See you there!

Rave: Dessert before Dinner

If you are anything like us, you know no meal is complete without something sweet. Yes, our mothers taught us that dinner comes before dessert, but for the following indulgences, we simply cannot help ourselves. We’ll always reach for these sweet treats first!

Cookie Dough Shots
Because frosting shots are so last year, now is the time to try cookie dough shots from Sweet Flour Bake Shop (2353 Bloor Street West). While the shop brings warm delicious cookies your way in just minutes, we’re more focused on their unbaked snacks.

Sold in mini individual sized containers, these dough shots offer just the right amount of cookie.

Flower Power Cupcakes 
Taste kindness with statement cupcakes from Eat My Words (300 Campbell Avenue). These treats with heart help raise money to benefit the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Order them in regular or mini versions, and these flower-topped cupcakes will be delivered in one of the company’s signature turquoise hat boxes. Available in four original flavours, you’ll have to try them all to choose a favourite!

Buttery butter tarts
We love butter tarts as dessert, and they are definitely something that we can eat at any time of day – whether having eaten a real meal before or not. Flaky Tart (711 Mt. Pleasant Road) makes some of the best in the city. They are flaky (of course) and buttery. The top has a satisfying crust and the filling is like heaven – sweet, creamy and classic. If you’re a butter tart aficionado, you must pay a visit to this adorable Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton bakery, owned by the former pastry chef at the Rosedale Golf Club. Mmmm.

Whether you’re a dessert-before-dinner sort, or the dinner first, dessert second type, what’s your must-have snack? Tweet us @rockitpromo!