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Meet the guests of #BTgivesback

Winston Sih | posted Monday, Nov 25th, 2013

Breakfast Television hosted guests who have made a difference in their communities in a #BTgivesback special. Give their stories a read below.

Randy Silver Mellon

Randy supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Princess Margaret Hospital.

Her nominee wrote: Randy has done the Weekend to End Women’s cancer and over the past 11 years has raised over $250,000.00 for Princess Margaret Hospital.  This past February, she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer and rather than let it bring her down, she continued fundraising, encouraging all of us to fight on and this summer, while still going through treatment walked with her daughters at the Weekend to End Women’s Cancer.  She is inspiring, strong and a shining example of what one person can do in the face of a huge challenge.

Randy is a proud supporter of Team In Training. The runners fund-raise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while training for an endurance event.  Randy was a mentor who had already done a number of races with TNT.

Laura Daly

Laura is the founder of Get Rec’d, an organization that supports young adults with cancer.

To date, they have raised over $200,000 and every penny has gone directly to patients in need in the form of gas cards, groceries, daycare, etc.  They host recreational events to get people active while raising funds to directly support cancer patients.  There are 10 dedicated individuals who help make this group successful and not one of them take a penny–they all have busy careers and family.

Laura and her brother started Get Rec’d to get people together to get active and raise money for kids with cancer. Ironically, in her fifth year, her brother got diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 27 and sadly passed away five years ago.

After witnessing the costs involved in fighting cancer as a young adult, she has decided to continue Get Rec’d and directly support young adults battling cancer.

Hayden Downes-Mills

Hayden conceptualized the organization, Hayden’s Re-Bicycling.

In October 2010, Hayden’s BMX bike was stolen from his family’s front yard.  It was his first real bike he had received earlier that spring for his 10th birthday. Sadly, it was later found, beyond repair, in a dumpster. His community reached out to Hayden offering new and used bikes and gift cards.

He came up with the idea to help other kids who needed bikes, and Hayden’s Re-Bicycling was born.

In the last three years, Hayden, his parents, and a countless volunteers have come together to collect, repair, and give away hundreds of bikes to those Georgetown/Halton Hills and the surrounding areas.  To date, over 600 bikes have been donated.

Hayden has been recognized by the Town of Halton Hills as well as TVO Kids Super Citizen Awards.

Kayla Johnston and Courtney Johnston

Kayla and Courtney started Be Bold, Go Gold.

Courtney wrote: My sister started getting sick last November. She never gave up, while everybody works hard trying to find her diagnoses. She finished grade 11, and received all three of her credits from second semester, while in pain and dealing with all her medical issues. She has had pancreatitis and a blood infection and still deals with everyday pain because of her slow motility.

“My parents always taught us, that someone is always worse then us. So we give back. My sister however, inspires me, cause she lives in pain everyday, and she works so hard every night for others. She is a person, we should all aspire to live up to you.”

She started a fundraiser for child hood cancer, called Be Bold, Go Gold she was able to raise almost $4,000 for the childhood foundation of Canada.  She now runs a campaign called “Making Parents Smile.” She is trying to make 200 to 300 gift bags for the parents to get on Christmas morning.

Brianna Newton

Brianna started Socks for Souls and donates clothes and products to the homeless all year round.

Her mother wrote: On her 21st birthday, she informed her father and I that she wanted nothing for herself but rather help starting a charity for the homeless people of Toronto.  She hit up her Facebook friends to get started and asked for socks and clothing for the homeless. The response was overwhelming and with a few friend’s help, Brianna spent her 21st birthday on the streets of Toronto handing out clothing and hygiene products to the homeless.

“I have been told that there are times she gets home from work and there are people waiting on her step that have heard she will help.  It brings tears to my eyes sharing this with you because I know she sometimes does without herself to do this! She no longer uses a cell phone because of cost. A 21-year-old without a cell phone activated….imagine!  I could not be more proud of the beautiful adult she has grown up to be.  We are 3000 km apart and haven’t seen each other for 2 years (neither of us can afford to fly) so what better way to say how much we love her and how proud we are of her!”

Her parents Michelle and Paul Newton live in Spaniards Bay, Newfoundland.

John Teljeur

John supports the Food Bank Crusade, and tons of other local charities.

John transformed his backyard into a food bank garden, where he grows thousands of pounds of fresh veggies for those in need.  In the fall he brings in and cuts wood for “Fuel for Warmth,” and delivers it to families who don’t have enough money to heat their homes.  He tirelessly works for the Food Bank program and breakfast programs in local schools.  In one year, he grew over 850 pounds of produce!

Anna Lopes

Anna is the founder and director of Million Dollar Smiles.

Over seven years ago, Anna started Million Dollar Smiles with the simple goal of wanting to bring smiles to children facing life threatening illnesses. It began with a small group of volunteers and together they helped change the life of 10 families in their first year through their Travelling Teddy Bear campaign.  Their very successful Summer Playground Build program entails teams of 20+ volunteers building playgrounds over a weekend in the backyard of their special children.

They also get a huge turnout for their Holiday Bear Drive.  Last Christmas over 200 volunteers took time out during the busy holiday season to help them deliver four-foot Teddy Bears (each with $100 Toys R Us gift certificates) to children around Toronto.  Each year, they continue to surpass our goals of delivering smiles and hugs to their special children during the important holiday season.

Deborah Goldberg and Melanie Seigel

Deborah and Melanie support the Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada.

In 2008, Melanie lost her dad to a brain tumour.  In 2012, Melanie and Deb bought houses on the same street, just a few doors away from each other–a street that housed many of their close friends.

Together, they organized a Halloween street party complete with trick or treating and a DJ. The community came together and we raised money for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.  The next year, they expanded and extended invitations to the surrounding streets. With the addition of many more people, and community businesses, they doubled their profit to over $1,200.

They started an online donation page with the foundation.  Even with the windy, rainy weather, they had over 800 people and 45 raffle prizes courtesy of neighbourhood businesses and their good-hearted friends.  They raised $3,000.

“It is now an event that shuts down our street, where people come from near and far just to be involved and support an amazing cause, one that is so close to our hearts. We look forward to growing bigger every year!”

Mandy and Aaron Mareksy

Mandy is the co-founder of Aaron’s Apple and is Aaron’s Mom.  Aaron, 12 years old, is the founder of Aaron’s Apple.

At seven-years-old, Aaron was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.  The medication he needed cost more than $50,000/year, but luckily insurance covered it.  He started Aaron’s Apple to help families that could not afford expensive medications and treatments.  To date, he has raised close to half-a-million dollars.

He has been at Sick Kids for the last 2 weeks where he lives his life in a significant amount of pain, but the pain that doesn’t stop him from helping others.

Mike Jowett

Mike supports the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Mike has become such an advocate in support and education of Diabetes that he has become a mentor to many of his friends who also suffer from the disease.  A sold-out concert last spring featured The Johnny Cash Show–Johnny also died from complications of diabetes–where over $6,400 was raised towards diabetes research and provided Mike the opportunity to travel to Iceland to participate in the 14-kilometre hike through the glaciers.

He continues to talk about his weight loss of over 100 lbs, as well as his daily exercise routines and diet that has proven that diabetes can be controlled without the aid of medication; however this is only possible with discipline, education, diet and exercise.

He has recently been invited through his company to talk at an upcoming convention about his success with the challenge of living with diabetes.

Photo gallery

Take a look at our behind-the-scenes photo gallery featuring some of the best moments from our special!


  • ginette brisebois says:

    very impressing and comforting to find out , there is still a lot of determined and good hearted people around ….
    god bless you all

  • A. StephenTurbin says:

    Hello there in Toronto! To let U know that I still love T.O where I used to live and work for several years long long time ago!… Yes I still enjoy watching News Etc Toronto -especially BT which made me feel I was there already! Please keep up the great work ! God Bless the BT!!

  • S. Daly says:

    So nice to see that Breakfast Television has ” HEART” and put so much effort into giving back to those individuals who give their time to support those who really need assistance. Your team is fabulous!!

  • Debbie Mahoney says:

    It was great to hear stories of the good people in our lives … very inspiring and uplifting!

  • Nancy Cavallin says:

    Very inspiring today. Love these stories and the people sharing them. Heartwarming, and thanks to the sponsors, especially Porter Airlines.

  • Mark Beacock says:

    Now living in London ON, I still watch my BT Toronto morning show. Great support for all the quests on the show this morning.

  • Tracey Harris says:

    I live in Brantford now, but Love watching BT you make me feel like I’m still living there..

  • Vickey Brake says:

    I love Breakfast Television I am also from Nl, I am also hoping to be one of the people taht is going to get a prize home giveaway. I don’t know if this word is ashtag. Twas the Month before Christmas I just love your show.
    Vickey Brake

  • Billie Lewis says:

    -# BT gives back

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