The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters

Out of the hospital and onto the Corona Theatre stage

November 27, 2022 The McGill University Health Centre Foundation Season 3 Episode 7
The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters
Out of the hospital and onto the Corona Theatre stage
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Health Matters, MUHC’s Got Talent took health care workers out of their scrubs and onto the stage at the Corona Theatre to perform in front of a live audience. Tarah Schwartz speaks with Dr. Jason Shahin, who rocked the stage with his band, J and the Heartbeats. First place winner Dr. Pamela Jones explains her love of opera. Rony Cukier, one of the MUHC’s Got Talent co-chairs, describes the significance of raising over $677,000. Celebrity judge Mose Persico shares what it was like to be a part of such an inspiring evening. 

Cette semaine, on revient sur Le CUSM a du talent, une soirée de collecte de fonds où des travailleurs et travailleuses de la santé sont sortis de l’hôpital pour monter sur la scène du théâtre Corona. Tarah Schwartz s’entretient avec le Dr Jason Shahin, qui a enflammé la scène du théâtre Corona avec J and the Heartbeats. La Dre Pamela Jones, qui a remporté la première place du choix du jury, nous parle de son amour pour l’opéra. Rony Cukier, un des coprésidents de Le CUSM a du talent, nous explique l’importance des 677 000 $ amassés. Et le juge-étoile Mose Persico nous décrit ce qu’il a ressenti en participant à une soirée aussi inspirante. 

Support the show

Follow us on social media | Suivez-nous sur les médias sociaux
Facebook | Linkedin | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube

Tarah Schwartz:

Hello there. Thank you for joining us. I'm Tarah Schwartz and this is Health Matters on CJAD 800. On today's show, MUHC's Got Talent was a fundraising event that started as an idea inspired by the hit TV show. What if we had a concert fundraising event where health care professionals performed their hidden talents? There are so many musicians, singers, performers at the MUHC. What if we gave them a chance to let those talents shine and shine they did? MUHC's got talent took place November 16 at Montreal's Corona theater. Each performer was fundraising for a special project close to their hearts. So cancer, cardiology, genetic diseases. Areas of the hospital that didn't have a chosen performer, some school band stepped in. In all the event raised more than $677,000 and that amount keeps growing every day. One of the performers joins me now. Dr. Jason Shahin and his band J and the Heartbeats brought the house down last week. The band is composed of health care professionals from the MUHC. They did two songs Billy Idol's White Wedding, and Prince's Purple Rain in which Dr. Shahin who joins me now, you had a fantastic guitar solo, didn't you?

Dr. Jason Shahin:

I did, actually went off much better than I thought it would.

Tarah Schwartz:

Is that the first time you perform that one in public?

Dr. Jason Shahin:

It is; it is the first time. Actually this band has been together only for about six weeks, which I brought my friends together to do this for this occasion. But I've been playing that song maybe for like 10-15 years, I have to admit. I've always been a huge Prince fan. And so it felt really comfortable to play. It was something that I've always been playing.

Tarah Schwartz:

Oh, that's amazing. I'm a huge Prince fan, too. I had posters of Prince on my bedroom wall growing up. So I'm right there with you as a Prince fan. So how long have you been playing the guitar?

Dr. Jason Shahin:

I've been playing guitar since I was 16. I started as a teenager. My mother agreed to buy me small guitar at Steve's Music Store thinking I'd probably just drop it after a few months. And behold, 25 years later, I'm still playing. I didn't play for a while during med school and during my training. There wasn't much time. And then once I graduated and became a full-fledged doctor, I had time to start taking it up again and really getting into more seriously.

Tarah Schwartz:

So let's talk about your life as a full-fledged doctor. How long have you been working at the MUHC? And tell us about what you do and what your area of expertise is.

Dr. Jason Shahin:

I've been at the MUHC probably for the last 14 years. I trained at McGill as well. For two years, I went to London, England to do some extra training. And when my wife and I got back- we both work at the MUHC- and so it's been about 14 years. I work mostly in the Intensive Care Unit at the Glen dealing primarily these days with COVID patients, but also with cardiac patients and cancer patients. I'm also a respirologist, a lung doctor, and that's what I was raising money for at the event that you're describing.

Tarah Schwartz:

Now tell us a little bit about your band mates. You said that this band was put together in six weeks. Are they all employees of the MUHC? Or how did this band come together? Who are they?

Dr. Jason Shahin:

They are actually so our bass player who sang on White Wedding. He's a great big hulking guy. He's a nurse in the ICU that I've known for years and we've talked about playing together. The singer who sang on Purple Rain is a gastroenterologist, Dean Soulellis. He's been a friend of mine since residency, but we've also chatted over the years about playing together just never got around to it. And the drummer is a respiratory therapist at the Montreal General hospital's ICU. I played with him over the past couple of years. So when I was asked to do something for respirology, to raise money for this event. I said, Oh, I need to put some friends together because I'm not going to go out there alone. And so I gave them all a quick call and everyone was very keen on doing it. It was nice. We got together. We practiced six or seven times and it came together really quite nicely. I think you guys have spawned a new band, actually, we decided to keep on playing.

Tarah Schwartz:

That is amazing!

Dr. Jason Shahin:

It is amazing actually. Really, it's hard to find good people to play with, you know. When you find something that works, and it has chemistry, you got to build on it.

Tarah Schwartz:

And what a way to sort of launch that band on stage at the Corona theater. I mean, you've been to the theater before, but I'm guessing you've never played on that stage.

Dr. Jason Shahin:

Yeah, I've been there. I've seen many, many good rock show there. But I've never got a chance to play. I have to say might have been one of the highlights of my life. It was really quite... It was a beautiful feeling to be up there. The lights were on and people were in the crowd and people were attentive and to hear my guitar soar through that beautiful theater. It was a lovely moment.

Tarah Schwartz:

It really was an incredible moment. I'm not joking when I say that you really brought the house down. That guitar solo you could hear other than your amazing guitar solo- nobody was moving. Nobody was moving. Everybody was just watching it. It was so much fun. I'm so glad to hear that it had such a wonderful moment for you. We're speaking with Dr. Jason Shahin. We're talking about his role in MUHC's Got Talent, a recent fundraising event put on by the MUHC Foundation that raised more than $677,000. So J and the Heartbeats, that is your band's name. You won the third place, judges' prize. It added $4,000 to your cause. How special was that moment? So not just playing on stage, but actually winning one of the top three prizes?

Dr. Jason Shahin:

You know what, it was completely shocking. I really had no expectation at all. And actually, I'll tell you a funny story. We came in the day before to set up. And so I came in quickly from work just to make sure the amps were there, and everything was there. And I heard there was a Glee Club there. These were the students from John Rennie, that sang the ABBA music. They were so good when I heard them on the day before. And I told her bandmates, I'm like, maybe we should back out of this. I mean, they're incredible. And so to actually win was truly, truly shocking. It was nice. I mean, we weren't there for that purpose. And I don't really see music as a competitive thing. But it was a nice validation at least, that some people got some enjoyment for what we did. So it felt good, for sure.

Tarah Schwartz:

That's great. You and I were talking before we sort of jumped on the interview about how we were both a little nervous before the event, because it's never been done before. We weren't sure what to expect, take us through that again, let people know how you were feeling before the actual event happened. And then once it was over how your feelings changed.

Dr. Jason Shahin:

So it's interesting. I played many gigs in front of people. Before COVID, I used to go jam once a week at some bars and restaurants. I'm used to playing in front of people but there definitely was some anxiety. There's natural tension. You feel the adrenaline in your body. You're playing in front of a lot of people. There was a little bit of nerves. But I'm used to just keeping it tempered. But you can hear it on the first song actually. We also didn't have time for a sound check. So on the first song, there was some mistakes. We were just trying to get things ready. And so by the time we hit the second song, I think we're all plugged in. We're all good. We're all calm. I think that's why the second song really sort of just took off.

Tarah Schwartz:

Nice. Now you were one of 10 performances that took place on that evening. What did you think of the other performers? We had an a capella group, we had an opera singer, there was, as you mentioned, a Glee Club. There were a couple other doctors in bands. What were your thoughts overall about the talent in general?

Dr. Jason Shahin:

I mean, I was amazed. It was great overall, sitting in the audience, watching my colleagues play. And it was amazing just seeing the diversity of talent that people have. And I think it's one of the judges said, it was just really cool to see what other live people have. I see them at work. The acapella group, for example, he's a pharmacist I used to work with at the Montreal General and to see this other life that he has doing this and going after his passion. I think was just wonderful to see. I was particularly taken by the young woman played her own music. She was the ninth the second to last.

Tarah Schwartz:

Billie du Page is her name.

Dr. Jason Shahin:

Yes. I was very much moved by her. I mean, I thought her songs were beautiful, beautifully played. I thought she really had a very... she moved me actually. It was really quite something.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, she moved me too. She was singing in support of Dr. Donald Vinh. Anyone who listens to the radio or watches TV these days knows Dr. Vinh and his specialties and rare genetic diseases. So she won second place, actually. So $6,000 extra to her fundraising efforts for Dr. Donald Vinh. How does music help? Do you think I thought the host of the night, Florence K who did a beautiful job? She said music and health, bring us together and make us one like and I thought that was just a really nice thought. As someone who is obviously deeply committed to your work as a doctor and obviously an exceptional musician. Do you think that they work together to make us happy to bring us peace?

Dr. Jason Shahin:

I think it's essential. I can I can speak personally. Again, I spend most of my time working in the ICU and we see a lot of difficult things. We see a lot of people going through difficult times. We see a lot of people dying, unfortunately. I find for myself coming home, being able to play music to have some music in my life. Even if it is just listening to a song, I find its soul nourishing and regenerative. I think most people have music in their lives in one way or another and I feel blessed to have it in my life to do it to that degree. And I don't know if I could function without it, to be honest.

Tarah Schwartz:

That's lovely. Dr. Jason Shahin. First of all, congratulations on winning third place and thank you so much not just for joining us on Health Matters but for trusting us and taking part in MUHC's Got Talent. We really appreciate it.

Dr. Jason Shahin:

Tarah, it's my pleasure. And thank you so much.

Tarah Schwartz:

And if you would like to see j in the heartbeats want to see their performance. There's also some amazing photos of Dr. Shahin up on the website. Just head to MUHCFoundation.com You can see pictures photos. You can watch the entire video if you'd like. Coming up on Health Matters, her angelic soprano voice wowed the judges at MUHC's Got Talent, they awarded her the top prize. I'm Tarah Schwartz. Welcome back to Health Matters on CJAD 800. Dr. Pamela Jones is an orthopedic surgeon at the Lachine hospital. She was also a performer in MUHC's Got Talent. She wowed the audience and our panel of celebrity judges with her incredible soprano voice. She won first place and received an additional $10,000 toward her cause- the modernization of the machine Hospital. Dr. Jones joins me now. Hello.

Dr. Pamela Jones:

Good morning.

Tarah Schwartz:

First of all, congratulations top prize at MUHC's Got Talent. How did that feel?

Dr. Pamela Jones:

It was surreal in a lot of ways. And it was a wonderful experience. The level of talent was tremendous. So it was an exciting evening, to say the least.

Tarah Schwartz:

Now you have an incredible voice. Obviously, you won top prize by the judges. Do you sing in public regularly? Is this something that you do?

Dr. Pamela Jones:

I had finished orthopedics at about age 28 and I wanted to look into singing because I'd always played the classical piano for years. But I was always curious if I had a voice and back then I started practicing voice really seriously. And in the late 90s and early 2000s, I was doing quite a lot of concerts, including two really fun ones for Lachine, where we made quite a bit of money for the machine hospital at that time. But I'd had children in between so opera had kind of been laid to the wayside for a while. So it was so exciting to get back into it and prepare such an incredible aria that I just love.

Tarah Schwartz:

I have to say I have to go back to this moment where you said that you sort of wanted to discover if you had a voice. I think most people might say, Oh, I wonder if I can sing. But what was your reaction when you realized you can sing opera.

Dr. Pamela Jones:

It's a funny story because I just wanted to be able to sing pop. I wanted to sing a Whitney Houston song 'All at once' which has some high notes in it. And I was with a pop teacher and I just wasn't getting anywhere. He left town and I ended up studying with his girlfriend who literally had the voice of Maria Callas. She was so talented. She totally inspired me and within like three weeks while he was in USA, I started to realize that my voice just suited opera much better. Mind you there's a funny thing about opera singing. They say it takes five years to build an opera voice and to get all the nuances. But it's funny being a doctor you have the extra funds to be able to study with really incredible teachers. I got to study Huguette Tourangeau, a little bit with Natalie Choquette. I spent some time studying with Manrico Tedeschi who's a world-renowned tenor. I've been so lucky in my training. But unfortunately orthopedics got so busy then I had to you know... This has been my first opportunity in a while to really get back to it. And it was really a fun experience.

Tarah Schwartz:

I'd like to know a little bit about your position as an orthopedic surgeon at Lachine Hospital. Tell us a little bit about your job and about your field.

Dr. Pamela Jones:

Lachine Hospital has orthopedics, running clinics quite regularly. Because we're close to the Lachine canal and the events on bicycles and on rollerblades, we get a lot of trauma. The older population in Lachine and Dorval are obviously getting the classic fractures of the wrists and of the hips. We do a lot of fracture care and I had to get gotten some extra training and foot and ankle so I was taking care of a lot of diabetic foot conditions, for foot deformities. And it's a very busy, busy practice. And we used to be more surgeons and we're presently starting to recruit for an extra surgeon. So that's underway at this time.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're speaking with Dr. Pamela Jones, who won top prize at MUHC's Got Talent. She's raising money for the modernization of Lachine Hospital. So tell us a little bit about that hospital. It's just begun its modernization project. It's going to be almost double the size. What's it like to work there now?

Dr. Pamela Jones:

It's a little bit chaotic needless to say it was parking. But aside from that, we're all looking forward to the new building and the new facilities we're going to have. It's an exciting time. It's not going to be what it used to be. It used to be a smaller community hospital and we had a lovely group of people working that all work with each other and help each other out. And it's been a wonderful place to work for the last 25 years. It's going to be interesting to see how things change. And we're going to probably become more of the MUHC with probably a lot more surgically-specialized people coming out to Lachine to work there as well. It's a little bit shocking to live through. So we're all curious what's going to happen.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, it should be a really beautiful building once it's all done. So let's take you now to the stage of the Corona theater, Dr. Jones. Have you ever been in that theater before?

Dr. Pamela Jones:

I'd seen Blue Rodeo there once. It was really a great concert. But I obviously never performed there. And it was a little bit daunting as an opera singer, because they have huge sound systems to handle the rock groups. In fact, I have a strong voice. And I was hoping that I wouldn't have to use a mic at all. The sound engineer Mark Andre was really helpful. Because there's one note at the end that's a high B flat. It's a bit of a scream as they say. So it was just figuring out how far away to be from the mic and certain particulars like that. It was a great theater. It's a really warm environment. And they have a really tremendous crew there that was able to bring us on the stage, off the stage. And it was really done well. So I was really impressed by that theater.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, I agree. I think that was one of the worries in terms of putting on a show like this, where you have 10 different acts. All of them are different. Some are bands, some are orchestras, some are singing, some have a piano. And you have to get each one on and off, on and off, on and off in a very short period of time. So it was impressive to watch that happen. So what was

Dr. Pamela Jones:

And the MC was really fun too the way she handled it. We really didn't understand that we were going to have celebrity judges. At least I didn't understand that we were going to have celebrity judges there. That was a shock and for us to be critiqued each one by one. It was it was fascinating how it all worked.

Tarah Schwartz:

Surprise! Mose is going to be speaking on the show as well. And I remember talking to him after the show. And he said he doesn't think of them as critiques because he can't possibly critique all of your amazing talent. But it's more like his reaction to how you sang. I think Mose had one of the most beautiful reactions to you, actually, Dr. Jones. I was getting all like verklempt because he was getting over clubbed. And he was saying that was like an angel came down and was performing at the hospital. What was it like for you to hear those comments from the celebrity judges?

Dr. Pamela Jones:

There was such a warm reception. I mean, it's so hard as a singer to know exactly how you're going to touch people. So when he gave that heartfelt response, you just want to go over and give him a hug. He's just a lovely, lovely human being and the other two judges as well were so kind and the people afterwards were really kind as well. So it was quite the experience. It took a little while to come down from.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, I agree. It was hard to get to sleep that night, there was so much excitement. Now you were awarded top prize. So judges pick, you added $10,000 to your fundraising initiative for the modernization of Lachine Hospital. What was that like to hear your name called out when they announced the first place winner?

Dr. Pamela Jones:

Well, it truly was exciting. I was really proud and happy to be able to do that for Lachine because they've always given me so many things over the years. It was wonderful to have their support all the way and then to be able to bring something back to them was a real treat. And made me really, really happy.

Tarah Schwartz:

You said that you haven't had an opportunity to get on a stage, certainly in the last three years I imagine with COVID. Has this sort of renewed your taste for wanting to get back out on the stage and show people your talent and to start singing in that way again?

Dr. Pamela Jones:

For sure. And I was also very fortunate my accompanist, she's just tremendously talented. And she's actually also studied, she's got full classical training, but she's also studying her master's in jazz piano. So the years that I wasn't singing opera, I was doing more and more pop music and jazz as well. So it looks like the two of us are going to try to work on putting a little collection together and get back out there and do some more performances. She was a sweetheart to work with.

Tarah Schwartz:

Wonderful. Well I want to thank you so much for coming on Health Matters, Dr. Jones. I also want to congratulate you again for your top prize and MUHC's Got Talent and for taking part in the event this year. We really appreciate it.

Dr. Pamela Jones:

Yeah, I hope they get to have a great event next year too. I'm sure anybody that participates is going to love the opportunity.

Tarah Schwartz:

It's already in the works, Dr. Jones, already in the works. Thank you. If you want to see Dr. Jones's performance or if you want to see photos from the night of, once again just head to MUHCFoundation.com. Everything is there and Dr. Pamela Jones, who won top prize by the judges really worth going to take a listen. It was absolutely gorgeous. Thank you again, Dr. Jones.

Dr. Pamela Jones:

Thank you.

Tarah Schwartz:

Next up on Health Matters, upon hearing about this grassroots talent show event, my next guest stepped up. I'm Tarah Schwartz and this is Health Matters. The MUHC Foundation was fortunate to have a small but mighty team of volunteer co-chairs, helping to make MUHC's Got Talent a heartfelt and magical evening. Some of the co-chairs worked with the individual teams to help them fundraise for their cause. Rony Cukier was a co-chair of the entire event, he helped us raise a staggering $677,000; an amount that keeps growing. Thank you so much for being here, Rony.

Rony Cukier:

Good morning. Thank you for having me.

Tarah Schwartz:

Absolutely. So let's start with your connection to the MUHC and the MUHC Foundation. Rony, tell us about that.

Rony Cukier:

I was treated for a cancerous lesion on my kidney, by Dr. Tanguay. And I mentioned to him that I would like to do something for him and for the hospital after my whole procedure was said and done. And so he introduced me to Julie Quenneville and that's my connection to the MUHC.

Tarah Schwartz:

Julie Quenneville is the president and CEO of the UHC Foundation, an absolute extraordinary person who really knows how to help people understand how important it is to raise money for causes like this. So I believe that you are one of the people who came up with this idea, MUHC's Got Talent.

Rony Cukier:

Actually, it was my wife, Mimi Cukier. I was discussing with her post my cryo-ablation intervention, what I could do to fulfill my obligation. And she said, why don't you guys do a take on America's Got Talent, and call it the MUHC's Got Talent. I pitched the idea to my co-chair, which was Catherine Melling Turner. And together, we discussed it with Julie and then it went to your team and your team analyzed it. And she came back to me telling me it was a go.

Tarah Schwartz:

Now, were you worried about how this kind of event was going... I mean, it's a big event, lots of performances, lots of health care workers. Were you able to visualize what it was going to be like? Or was it a big surprise for you the night of the event?

Rony Cukier:

Actually, I could visualize it. And it worked out a lot better than what I had hoped for. It was great. I didn't think it was going to be as successful as it was. But it was amazing. It really was amazing on very many different levels.

Tarah Schwartz:

Tell us about some of your favorite moments from the night of, Rony.

Rony Cukier:

I liked the fact that there were many different doctors, that there were different hospitals, and that you got adolescents into the picture. They are the future of our world and to have them involved and see that they can make a difference, I think is huge. Plus, I think the event was fun. It wasn't stuffy. And music is a language which everybody can relate to. And I think the doctors had a great time. It just was an all-around fun event. You know, sometimes galas are a little stuffy. This was fun. You could hear a pin drop in the room.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, it really was fun. And you're talking about the different school bands that got involved. So different parts of elements like cancer, or cardiology, who didn't have a doctor. They had school bands that that stepped up and were raising money for them. We had LCC, we had Selwyn House and we had the John Rennie Glee Club. They all managed to successfully raise money for doctors affiliated with the MUHC so that's wonderful. Now did you have a favorite act of the 10 acts that went up on stage, Rony?

Rony Cukier:

I loved all of them. That's my answer to you. They were very different. Whether it was the opera singer or the a capella group, or the LCC jazz band, or the rock band, they were all terrific. And they all deserve tremendous amount of credit for having come and participated. I just hope that in the coming years, you'll have more and more people coming out from the hospital and I just thought it was a great, great event. A lot of fun. And you raised a lot of money.

Tarah Schwartz:

We did raise a lot of money, thanks to your initial idea and your efforts. What was it like to hear that this grassroots event raised over $677,000? What was your reaction when you saw that big cheque come out at the end?

Rony Cukier:

It was a wow. That was what I could say. There were many things-you guys were sold out; the venue was sold out. I think that you had a tremendous amount of people streaming, you would know that better than me. But I think all of those things put together make it a very successful event.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, we did have a live stream and there were almost 1000 people that tuned in on our live stream to watch the event happen live, which is really fun. We were speaking with Rony Cukier, co-chair of the inaugural MUHC's Got Talent. So Rony, if I put you in the judges' seat, you're not going to pick your top three favorites or your top favorite?

Rony Cukier:

Well, you have to put me in the judges' seat. And then you'll see...

Tarah Schwartz:

I'm putting you in the judges' seat now. I'm putting you there now!

Rony Cukier:

No, no, no, next year. You put me in the judges' seat next year, and I'll tell you. But for this year, I loved all of them.

Tarah Schwartz:

You're not going to pick. Well, you're a tough nut to crack, Rony. You're a tough nut to crack.

Rony Cukier:

I'm serious, I loved all of them. They all deserved a prize for me for having participated. How's that?

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, just for having shown up. I agree. Now the MUHC Foundation wants to make this an annual event. What do you hope will come from next year's event? Do you see it being sort of a repeat? Like, was there anything you would change or do differently?

Rony Cukier:

I'm sure that there's lots of things that could be improved upon. Those I'm sure are being discussed. Now at the MUHC. I mean, it was the first event of its kind and like anything else, you learn from whatever mistakes maybe were made. But all in all, I think it was very positive. I hope that they repeat the amount of money if not more, I hope that they get more departments willing to participate. And that they have a really wonderful time again. I think it's a great idea. And it's something that if I was involved, I would keep repeating year after year. Maybe I would start a little bit earlier with the organizing it so that we could get more people involved and possibly raise more money.

Tarah Schwartz:

Absolutely. That is definitely on our list of things to do for sure. Now, I want to ask you about philanthropy, Rony, because you're somebody who is touched by your treatment at the MUHC. And you decided to give back. Now whether it's bringing an idea for a large event or pulling your wallet out and donating $20 or any other form of philanthropy, what would you say to people out there in terms of the importance of giving back and how that makes you feel?

Rony Cukier:

Giving back has always been part of my culture and my upbringing. And it is part of my kids upbringing. And I got LCC involved, and LCC's motto was Non nobis solum. And part of their school curriculum is that you have to give back. There's some type of charitable work that you have to do throughout your years of schooling. And I was fortunate enough to have four kids go through that. So I'm very involved, I like to give back whenever I can. It's an important thing makes me feel very, very good. And the genesis of this was me trying to give back to a hospital organization that did wonders for me. And I felt that we hear out there a lot of criticism about our health care system. When it works well, they have to be acknowledged and rewarded. And in my particular case, and in my co-chair, Catherine Melling Turner's case, it worked well. We're both cancer survivors, and the institution helped both of us.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, that was going to be my question. I was going to ask you, how are you feeling now? Because obviously, that's not an easy process to go through.

Rony Cukier:

I have my fingers crossed, and I'm feeling very well. And onward and forward, and you can't be stuck in life. You have to take whatever hiccups life gives you and work through them. And make the most out of it and enjoy every moment of time. Every moment is precious. So for the time being I feel great.

Tarah Schwartz:

And where do you get that positive attitude from Rony? Did you always have it?

Rony Cukier:

I would say my wife and my family. And I'm getting to the age where I starting to see friends of mine passing. And it kind of brings it front and center for you. When I was younger, I always had the buffer of my parents being in front of me, but they're kind of gone now. So I'm the next generation, I better make the most out of it. That is the bottom line.

Tarah Schwartz:

Well, it sounds like you are Rony Cukier. I want to thank you so much for your efforts, your time, your thoughts, your ideas for MUHC's Got Talent. And thank you so much for joining us on Health Matters. It's been a pleasure.

Rony Cukier:

Thank you for having me. And I wish you a lot of luck in the up and coming events and looking forward to seeing you guys at MUHC's Got Talent next year.

Tarah Schwartz:

Thank you, Rony. Next up on Health Matters, he is a beloved CTV personality, who was also a celebrity judge at the event he shares how the experience touched him. I'm Tarah Schwartz and you're listening to Health Matters. Mose Persico is a beloved television entertainment personality. He was one of the celebrity judges at MUHC's Got Talent alongside Catherine Verdon-Diamond and four-times Stanley Cup winner, Yvon Lambert. The three of them awarded top prizes to their favorite performers. First prize received an additional $10,000, second $6,000 and third $4,000 that went to each performer's cause at the MUHC. And Mose joins us now. Hey, Mose.

Mose Persico:

Hi. Good morning, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

So full disclosure to everyone who is listening that I have known Mose for... Mo, I want to say decades, decades.

Mose Persico:

It is. Yes, we worked alongside each other for

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah. We've become friends. So what did you think when I called you up? And I said, Mose, we're doing this talent show. Doctors are going to get up performing and we want you to be a judge. What was it that went through your mind? decades, right?

Mose Persico:

I was very excited because the MUHC Foundation, helmed by Julie Quenneville is very dear to me. I was at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Glen yards when they were thinking about building the hospital. And I saw every phase of that hospital go up. And I was so thrilled and excited to be a part of many fundraisers, which led eventually to the inaugural opening of that wonderful building, and hospital that we have now. So I was excited that we did events which were kind of similar in the past. One of them was called Dancing with the Docs, that was an event which was completely thrilling. I mean, here you have some of the top medics in the city, in the province, being taught how to dance with a private coach and then performing in front of an audience. We had two fundraisers that were completely sold out, and they blew me away. So when you people called me to help out with MUHC's Got Talent. I said, sure, it's going to be lots of fun and it was indeed a wonderful night.

Tarah Schwartz:

And so instead of dancing, these health care practitioners got up and either they sang or they were in a band, or they played a musical instrument. It all happened at the Corona theater on November 16. Describe the atmosphere for people who are listening, Mose, so they can sort of get a feel It absolutely was. It was such a fun event. So for it.

Mose Persico:

First of all, the venue was spot on. The Corona theater is a wonderful venue for musical acts. And there was an electricity already in the wonderful room up prior to these wonderful, talented people taking the stage with their let's talk about what inspired you about the winners. So third musical talents. I mean, it was amazing. Yvon Lambert and I shared a conversation because I had just arrived at 6:30. It was nice to see him. It was the first time working with Catharine and Yvon. And Yvon was excited because it was the first place went to Dr. Jason Shahin and his band J and the time that he was doing such an event, judging musical talents. This guy's a hockey player. Hockey is all he knows, and possibly golf. Catherine no stranger to talent; being a talented individual herself, on the music scene. So there was Heartbeats he was raising money for respiratory care at the like excitement in the air and a lot of familiar faces. Because of COVID, we haven't been out much. That was only my second event in the last three years that I was part of, because of COVID. So everyone was excited for a great night. And there was MUHC. Now what did you think of their performance of Purple already excitement in the air. And I think it carried over as the night progressed, it was like non-stop. The excitement was non-stop. Rain, which really quite frankly, brought down the house? Oh, my goodness, first of all, I mean, to tackle those two songs, he started with a Billy Idol. White Wedding if that wasn't enough. They take on

Tarah Schwartz:

Yes, White Wedding. Prince's Purple Rain. I mean, that guitar solo from Dr. J, as affectionately like to call him now. You could tell that this guy is not only a fantastic doctor, but he's totally relaxed when he has his guitar in his hands. And he was instrumental- no pun intended- but his fingers are magical and the way he tackled that guitar solo, it just brought the house down. And then the vocalist, he was unbelievable as well. And he told me after the show, that he never sang that song before. They just rehearsed it a couple of times. He never sang Purple Rain in front of a live audience. That blew me away. And Dr. J also confirmed that that fact he says yeah, we asked him to do it because I wanted a guitar solo. Because he's so in love with his guitar, Dr. J, that he wanted to really show what he's been practicing. So it was such a wonderful moment. Everyone that took the stage, they were so genuine. They were so into it. You could tell that they were there out of love, for the cause, they really wanted to thrill the audience's and they did. They really did. It was a fun night. We're speaking with entertainment personality. Mose Persico, who is a judge at MUHC's Got Talent. Now Mose, when Pamela Jones sang her opera song...

Mose Persico:

Oh my goodness...

Tarah Schwartz:

You and the judges awarded her first place. I thought I was going to cry because I thought you were going to cry when you were describing how she sang after her performance. Tell us about that moment.

Mose Persico:

Oh, my God, that was... there's so many moments that you can document with respect to how the evening went. But that to me, was the most uplifting and inspirational moment of the night. As I told her when I was- I don't even want to use critiquing or whatever. But my reaction to her performance was so genuine, because it really brought me back to my mom on the weekends. And I think I shared that with your audience, that my mom on the weekends used to love listening to opera music. And to see this doctor belt out that beautiful song, that beautiful operatic number. I had chills, and I was fighting back tears. I'll be honest, I didn't want to lose it in front of everybody. Because there was a sold out audience that night. But it was a magical moment. And she is so talented. And to think that she does this, I guess as a hobby. And their full time job is saving lives, it was just incredible. To me, it was just incredible to me, the talent that these medics demonstrated that night. Because they're so talented day in and day out at the hospitals that they work in. It was unbelievable what they did that night. So kudos to everybody that was involved.

Tarah Schwartz:

Agree and kudos to you as well, you and Catherine and Yvon, were just absolutely fantastic judges. You gave us your heart, your time and your energy. So that was our very first one. We're thinking of doing it again next year.

Mose Persico:

We were there to entertain the audience and we were there to have fun because it's an evening, which the number one criteria for the evening has to be fun. And then the fundraiser takes care of itself because if you have fun, everyone has a good time. And then they dig into their wallets to get to such a worthy cause. So when I take on missions like this, I always want to entertain the audience. I always want to give them a good time to make them feel good that hey, you're here for a wonderful night. It's going to be fun. And in this process, we're also going to raise money. So you have to be somewhat entertaining to the audience. You have to give them a good reason that you made the right choice of being here tonight with us. Sharing this magical night because it's going to be fun. And that's the mindset that I have. Every time I take on charitable causes. I always want to give the audience Hey, you made the right choice for being here tonight. And thank you for being here. That's the way I operate.

Tarah Schwartz:

And you did indeed do that. And we did raise a whopping $677,000 and counting on that night. So it was an extraordinary night. Mose, thank you so much for being part of MUHC's Got Talent and coming to talk to me.

Mose Persico:

Thank you to everyone there at the MUHC Foundation and to all your listeners on CJAD. Have a safe holiday, if we don't speak prior to the holidays. I'm sure we will because you've been bugging me for a pizza night.

Tarah Schwartz:

I do! (laughs)

Mose Persico:

That'll happen. But best of luck to everyone there at the MUHC Foundation, all my friends there.

Tarah Schwartz:

And once again if you want to see photos and video, read about MUHC's Got Talent, you can actually watch the entire video of the night, if you feel so inclined. So you can see every single one of the performances that Mose was talking about. Just head to MUHCFoundation.com You can see it on our homepage, click on it and everything is there. We hope that you go and take a look. I'm Tarah Schwartz. Thank you so much for tuning in. What would you like to hear about on the show? Write to me at health matters at MUHCFoundation.com. You can also follow us on social media or sign up for our newsletter. I hope you'll join me again next Sunday. Thank you so much for listening to Health Matters and stay healthy.