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Raptors Tip Off Dinner

by Rebecca Virgin
November 10, 2005

Instead of dishing up baskets, the Toronto Raptors were at Alice Fazooli’s serving up fine food, dressed appropriately in red aprons.

The fourth annual Raptors Foundation Tip Off Dinner took place on Wednesday evening and guests were treated by service from the likes of Jalen Rose, Morris Peterson, Matt Bonner, Sam Mitchell, and eight other players and coaches.

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MoPete gets the orders down for some youngsters at the Raptors Tip Off Dinner.
In an effort to raise $50,000 for charities across Ontario helping youth at risk, fans and corporate sponsors came out and had a casual dinner with the Raptors.

“I love doing this, you know anything that has anything to do with food, you can sign me up automatically,” said Raptor Joey Graham. “I love talking to people, mingling, I like getting out there and interacting with the community.”

The dining room was buzzing with people getting autographs, picking up drinks from Loren Woods at the bar, and players delivering each of the four courses with the precision of a pro.

“I actually have experience waiting tables,” said Raptors general manager Rob Babcock. “I waited tables for several years when I first started teaching and coaching high school. It’s been kind of fun for me. It’s a little flash back time.”

Some Raptors were more accustomed to waiting tables than others though, but where they lacked waiting skills, they made up for with conversation.

“To be honest I’ve been sitting down, having a few drinks, talking to everybody,” said head coach Sam Mitchell. “I really haven’t worked that hard. I’m getting a lot of tips about coaching and I’m learning a lot about some of these Raptors fans and some of them are pretty smart.”

The evening got off on the right foot when the crowd was introduced to Mary Turner, mother to three autistic children who have all benefited from the Raptors Foundation through a donation that was made to the Geneva Centre for Autism.

“I think they appreciated having a face to put to some of these charities,” said Turner. “It’s a really uplifting event, people are being so generous.”

The generous people at events like this one are what has made the Raptors Foundation the best in the NBA, a title they are not afraid to brag about.

“The Raptors Foundation is absolutely the best foundation in the league. They raise the most money and it goes to great causes so it’s a tremendous thing,” said Babcock. “It’s something that we need to do, it’s a responsibility that we have.”

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