Last year’s N9NE Gala in Toronto was a definite must-attend event for young professionals in the city, and this year is no exception. N9NE will once again be raising funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Support Fund at their annual gala on June 19 at CI Investments’ exclusive outdoor patio overlooking the city skyline. Guests will be treated to cocktails, manicures, dancing, h’ors doeuvres and an incredible silent auction, along with some impressive celebrity musical guests and DJs. We sat down with N9NE Founder Roula Panagiotopoulos (pictured left) to get a little more insight into what makes this event so special…
What was the inspiration behind launching the N9NE Gala?
N9NE fell into my lap. Four years ago, I was on a quest to give back. I approached a charity with the intention of providing pro bono marketing support. One thing led to another and N9NE was born. Here we are in year three looking into the future at year four.
Who are the key players behind N9NE?
I founded N9NE and have been the key driving force behind it. I have a great committee that provides support. I sometimes have control issues (in a good way), but I’m definitely looking for a yin to my yang.
Why is supporting the Canadian Breast Cancer Support Fund something that is important to you?
It’s two-fold. The first is breast cancer runs in my family, my grandmother passed away from the disease many years ago (before the advancements that we have seen today) and my aunt is a survivor. The second is that CBCSF provides tangible benefits. It provides financial assistance to those in need and as an entrepreneur I understand all too well how you don’t have the luxury to be sick – if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. So the financial aspect is very important, knowing that there is somewhere to go in times of need. As an aside, of the requests that are made to the CBCSF, 80% of the payouts go for food and shelter – it’s all too important.
What is the most rewarding part of founding N9NE? The most challenging part?
It’s a selfish thing. Knowing that I am making a difference in someone’s life is so profound and rewarding for me. We all have the ability to help, from attending charity events to donating our time to our favourite charity. The more you give, the more you want to give.
The challenging aspect is ensuring that the event goes off without a hitch. The planning process ebbs and flows until the very end and you have to go with the flow. I learned that when our venue pulled out two weeks before the event last year, it actually worked out to our advantage.
What separates the N9NE Gala from other charity events in the city?
It’s all about the charity that we support. Our long-term goal is to work with nine charities but that’s in the future. Our goal is to support charities that provide a direct link to change, not marketing or research (which are very important as well and are done very well by other charity events). I’ve heard over and over again that people want to see where their donations are going and we feel that we work with a charity where you can see that direct link.
How can young professionals become involved in the charity?
We are always looking for young professionals to get involved. It’s so important not only for young professionals, but for all to give back to their community. It’s fulfilling and part of being a good corporate citizen and human being. They can send us an email at info @ purecommunications.ca.
This year’s venue is definitely notable – can you tell us a little bit about what young professionals in attendance can expect?
I am so thrilled with our venue this year. There is nothing like a summer night underneath the lights of the city to inspire the soul. And in the vain of inspiring, guests will be entertained with a wicked collaboration between Bellosound’s Daniel Buckman and violin virtuoso Sonia Lee (she played at Barack Obama’s inaugural ball); it’s a mix of modern and classical that is out of this world. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are on tap. It’s all topped off with our silent auction including Swarovski pieces, a night at the Fairmont Royal York, one-of-a-kind art and so much more.