Why this Toronto art director put his best foot forward to raise money for diabetes research

Physically exhausted, his feet blistered and wrapped in bandages, Daniel Bennett crossed the (invisible) finish line in what had been a punishing 24-hour, 75,095-step walk around Toronto early on Sunday afternoon.

Wearing a face mask and a T-shirt reading “I’ll keep walking as long as you keep donating,” the senior art director with Arrivals + Departures had set out from the symbolically important Banting Institute at 2 p.m. the day before, with a goal of raising $10,000 for research into Type 1 diabetes.

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The Pickering, Ont. man had volunteered to be the designated walker for all of the people unable to participate in the annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk, which was cancelled this year because of COVID-19. The event was replaced with a virtual fundraiser called the JDRF House ParT1D (or “house party”) for a Cure.

Speaking on Sunday with one of the virtual event’s celebrity guests, NHL player Max Domi, Bennett said he was sore but in good spirits.

“I’ve got a few ailments, not going to lie,” he said. “A few pieces of my feet are not doing so well. [They’re] the sorest part, but everything else seems to be doing alright.”

Arrivals + Departures has been a longtime supporter of the JDRF through partner and chief financial officer Daniel Tolensky, whose daughter Hailey was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2011 at just 17 months old.

“It’s been inspiring to see the agency get behind the cause and to have Dan volunteer to walk for our family and so many others across the country,” said Tolensky.

Despite the last-minute change, the JDRF House ParT1D for a Cure raised $2.1 million, surpassing expectations. Bennett and the rest of the A+D team raised $11,000 alone.

Agency folks sure seem to love a good walk-a-thon for charity. In April, we brought you the story of Daniel Ehman, an account director with Toronto sports sponsorship firm MKTG, who walked around his tiny studio apartment for 24 hours to settle a bar bet and raise funds for Fred Victor.


Chris Powell