"Squash Dementia" is the brainchild of Ira Grossman, an avid squash player who was taught the game by his father David. David beat the odds and survived a brain tumour in the early 1970s, but ultimately passed away in May 2014 after battling dementia (likely caused by scar tissue from the brain tumour) for many years. Ira created the "Squash Dementia" Charity Singles Tournament to honour his father and raise funds to help fight dementia and promote brain health. The charity beneficiary of the annual event is The Gerry & Nancy Pencer Brain Tumor Centre at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Centre, providing the highest quality treatment, information and support for brain tumor patients and their families, as well as clinical and translational brain tumour research.
Ira has fond memories of being on the court with his dad, learning some hard lessons every weekend at the South and North Jewish Community Centres when growing up. Ira stopped playing in his mid-20s but re-captured his love for the game when he joined the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club in 2012, and continues to play competitive singles and doubles. The "Squash Dementia" event takes place on the 1st Saturday in May, the same day as the Kentucky Derby (as David was a huge horse racing fan). The event, which has sold out every year, celebrates the camaraderie and competitiveness of the sport, and is something Ira and family, as well as participants will surely wax nostalgic about for many years to come.
With his father gone, Ira continues to live and breathe his values – hard work, honesty, integrity, and giving back. In addition to "Squash Dementia", Ira continues to run his annual Playoff Hockey Challenge + Auction for Wishes fundraiser. Created in 1995 with his George Brown College Sport + Event Marketing classmates, Ira has kept the NHL playoff pool and auction going for 28 consecutive years, and has raised over $1,200,000 raised for Make-A-Wish Canada.
Entrepreneurial at heart, Ira is an independent fundraiser, generating funds for a number of charities through annual auctions. Ira has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and over 30 years of business experience - from business development, sales and marketing roles at eBay and Walmart, to event planning and fundraising with Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation and Gilda’s Club, to project management and consulting with Katalyst Licensing & Promotions and Lumency, to writing and reporting on sports, entertainment and business for Thomson Newspapers' Belleville Intelligencer.
Married and a father of two (ages 20 and 19), in his spare time, Ira can be found doing Hot HIIT, Hot Yoga, playing squash at the Cricket Club, skating in his long-time hockey pick up games, biking with friends, taking in movies on the big screen, watching his many favorite shows on TV, and of course, heading on awesome family vacations. Some of his favorite expressions are YOLO! and Namaste!