Sarah Grand

How an Ottawa REALTOR® became inspired to raise a million dollars for her local hospital

REALTOR® Sarah Grand saw firsthand the incredible care her mother received from The Ottawa Hospital when she fell ill in 2019. Inspired by this, Sarah joined The Ottawa Hospital Foundation and now co-chairs their annual President’s Breakfast fundraiser.  

The annual event has raised over $13,200,000 in the last 19 years to support medical research and innovation at The Ottawa Hospital. Knowing how important this hospital is to her community, Sarah committed to raising $1,000,000 for the President’s Breakfast’s 20-year anniversary in 2021.  

This is Sarah Grand’s Real Heart story.

Q: Tell us how you got involved with The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

A: Hospitals, just like homes, are a key part of our communities. I was born at The Ottawa Hospital, as were my two children. We’ve been in Ottawa our whole lives and this hospital has played an important role for us. 

In 2019, my mother was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). She passed away in early 2020, but I am forever grateful for the compassionate care she received at the hospital. I spent every single day there with my mother and saw her doctors do everything in their power to help her. I just kept thinking how lucky we are to have a facility like this in Ottawa. Although she lost her battle, her journey helped me realize that cancer-specific medical learning is what leads to new techniques and discoveries that will be adopted globally and benefit us all.  

I was first introduced to The Ottawa Hospital Foundation in 2017 when my husband Chris invited me to their annual President’s Breakfast. I was familiar with the Foundation and its work, but it wasn’t until my mother passed that I became more involved, volunteering and donating to events to help raise money and awareness.  

At the President’s Breakfast in 2020, I remember hearing directly from the patients whose lives had been saved from money raised by the Foundation. I was brought to tears hearing their stories. It reminded me of the treatment my mother received, which allowed me to spend those extra days with her.   

Earlier this year, I was asked to sit on the Board of Directors and co-chair the 2021 and 2022 President’s Breakfast – the largest fundraising event the Foundation puts on. It was an easy ‘yes’ for me. It was a way for me to not only give back to the community that has given me so much, but also to honour the legacy of my mother. 


Q: Tell us more about The Ottawa Hospital Foundation President’s Breakfast.

A: The President’s Breakfast is a signature fundraising event held every year for the hospital. It’s typically an in-person event where over 500 benefactors meet and hear stories from patients. This year, I co-chaired the event with my friend Jeff Clarke who is the CEO of Inflector Environmental Services. Jeff lost his father to lung cancer and joined the Foundation to give back to the community that took care of his family during the toughest of times.  

This year marked the event’s 20th anniversary, and due to COVID-19, we had to pivot to make the event virtual. Fortunately, this didn’t slow down our fundraising efforts. This year, more than ever, I think people realized the significance of the hospital and how important it is to support it. 

As of January 2022, we’re proud to say, we are on track to hit our goal of $1,000,000. Donations are still being counted, however, to date we’ve received $928,500. It’s surreal to think we are so close to raising a million dollars. It’s a credit to the selflessness of our donors and the community.  

Q: Since you began volunteering for the Foundation, what patient story or experience has been the most impactful to you?

A: During the virtual breakfast, we heard from Gina Mertikas-Lavictoire. She is a mother of three who was suddenly diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember falling to tears hearing her story. There was no family history of breast cancer, and her youngest child just turned a year old. She underwent four surgeries, including a hysterectomy and double mastectomy. She credited The Breast Health Centre at The Ottawa Hospital for providing her the treatment that saved her life. During her treatment, she received a critical chemotherapy drug called Herceptin, which was a discovery made by the hospital, thanks to the funding from the Foundation. 

Many don’t realize that The Ottawa Hospital is one of the top learning and research hospitals in Ontario. It’s a hospital that attracts the best and brightest who constantly push the boundaries of the medical and research space. The funds we raise help the hospital conduct innovative research and clinical trials. Last year, the hospital bought a cyber knife, which allows doctors to operate on small tumors – a feat that was once impossible. From stem cell research to cutting-edge, life-saving technology, the hospital can invest the money raised from the Foundation into better and safer treatments for patients. 

Q: What has the community’s response been to your fundraising efforts?

A: It’s been a domino effect. I think when you give back to your community through donations or time, it inspires others to give back as well. 

My brokerage, Engel & Völkers, donated $15,000 to the Foundation knowing how important it is to me and our community. It’s incredible to see others get inspired and give back. 

I also received overwhelming support from those in Ottawa, especially local businesses. Their generosity made it possible for us to raise the money this year and I’m always blown away by their commitment to support the Foundation.  

Hearing stories directly from people like Gina makes you realize how important this event is and how it’s helping to save lives.  


Q: How has being a REALTOR® helped you give back to your community?  

A: My mother was a REALTOR® for over 40 years, and my giving back spirit is a credit to her.  I grew up seeing the impact she had on her community, beyond buying and selling houses. As a REALTOR® myself, I’m able to see firsthand what it means to invest back into my community. I want to better the experiences of everyone who lives here. My motivation is to help build a community where everyone can benefit. 

Being a REALTOR® has given me the opportunity to connect with people in my community directly and help them reach their goals, both professionally and personally. Being an active community member makes me feel empowered to support people around me. 


Getting connected with The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

The Ottawa Hospital Foundation raises money to support The Ottawa Hospital. The Foundation works with the community to raise money to improve patient care, buy new equipment, and support medical research at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.  

To learn more about The Ottawa Hospital Foundation or to donate directly, please visit: 

To learn more about Gina Mertikas-Lavictoire’s story, please visit: