HwS - History

The Honourable Hazel MaCallion,
Mayor of Mississauga,
at our ribbon-cutting ceremony
to commemorate our newly
Registered Charity in 2009.

Since 2002

Healing with Smiles has been providing life changing encounters in our community since 2002.

We like to think of ourselves a the “Big Distraction”, causing a buzz of excitement that lingers long after the visit has concluded.  

Healing with Smiles was founded in 2002 out of the desire to provide emotional support and bring comfort to individuals living with a life challenging illness. We have conventional medicine on our side, but we realized that there is a gap to fill and there is more that can be done.

We’ve all heard the old adage “laughter is the best medicine”. Recent medical studies have revealed that the mood-boosting benefits of laughter and social interaction with others, are essential for the healing process.

In 2009 we became an incorporated, registered charity. Former Mississauga Mayor, Hazel McCallion, showed her support for Healing with Smiles by participating at our inaugural event with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Since then, we have raised over $100,000 through our Hippo Wrapping Parties and participating in the Healing Cycle Ride; and have delivered well over 5,000 healing hippos.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Please take a look at our History in pictures.

Hippo Wrapping Parties

Our very first Hippo Wrapping Party took place at our founder’s kitchen table.  It was small and  humble.  We had recently met the young John Tavares, professional hockey player, who had agreed to become our very first SMILE Ambassador.  We attached the cards he signed to each of the cuddly grey plush hippos and wrapped them in cellophane bags, complete with a red bow to honour his gold medal win at the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2008.  And this is how we started our tradition of wrapping hippos.

We soon out-grew the kitchen table and starting moving our annual Hippo Wrapping Party around Ontario.  We want to thank a few of our host communities who welcomed us and participated in an afternoon of laughs and smiles while we accomplished our task of preparing hippos  for delivery to local hospitals, retirement residences and individual homes:  Milton, Brampton, Mississauga, Seaforth and Toronto.


Hippo Day Trippin’

Hippo Day Trippin’ is one of our favourite group activities.  And when you add a dancing hippo to the party, you should see all the smiles flood in!  We have had the honour of visiting many wonderful hospitals.  Some of these trips have turned into annual Christmas events, like the Seaforth Community Hospital and Brampton Civic Hospital.

Sometimes life can become routine in a Seniors’ Residence,  but not a Hippo Trippin’ Day!  We dance from room to room delivering smiles and leaving each resident with their very own purple plush hippo “Buttercup”.   We have visited Erin Mills Lodge, Mississauga; Huronview Senior’s Residence, Clinton; Seaforth Manor, Seaforth; Blue Water Rest Home, Zurich; Leaside Retirement Residence, Toronto, Leisureworld Caregiving Centre, Etobicoke, Alexander Marine & General Hospital and Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga.



Everyone loves a parade, especially when riding in purple Hippo-Mobile!  The volunteers, both young and old, dressed up and danced along side our purple Hippo-Mobile to crowds of smiling on-lookers.  Rain or shine our volunteers always delivered an A+ performance.  A few of our favourite parades to date are:  Scarborough Canada Day Parade, Mississauga Santa Clause Parade and the Bread & Honey Festival in Streetsville,  Canada Day Parade in Port Credit and the Seaforth Fall Fair Parade.


Healing Cycle

Making Moments Matter on a bicycle?  Can you believe that for nine years we had a huge group of volunteers who rode their bicycles from 10 KM up to 100 KM at The Healing Cycle Ride?  Oh what fun we’ve had dressing in purple wigs, funny clown suits and even dressing up as those lovable yellow Minions, happy to do our part for a worthy cause!   What a colourful SMILIE group we made!  Our charity couldn’t have grown so fast without the support of The Healing Cycle fFundation and the hundreds of volunteers who rode for us.  We have a special shout out to Nazem Kadri and Casey Cizikas for being our outstanding celebrity riders.  This wouldn’t have happened without the incredible support of Derrick Luck, Wendy Cizikas and Heather Campbell.


Hippo Fundraising Events

Have you every been at a hippo fundraising event?  Well let me tell you, we have a lot of laughs.  Our volunteers include  local businesses, students and members of our community who have fueled our charity by supporting our annual fundraising events. 

Did you see us as the following events:  Goderich Art and Craft Show, Michael-Angelo’s Car Shows, The Horton Fundraising event in Windsor, The Student Yard Sale at the Framing Edge in Mississauga and the Basketique event, just to name a few.