The Boston Pizza Paper Heart campaign started in
By now, many people have heard of the Boston Pizza Heart-Shaped
Pizza campaign - or enjoyed one of the uniquely shaped dinner items
for charity. And a huge part of that annual campaign involves
donating money and signing or decorating a red paper heart at your
local BP's restaurant.
The promotion, which launched corporately in 1993, has helped
raise more than $24 million for the Boston Pizza Foundation future
Prospects which helps support other charities like Big Brothers Big
Sisters, Kids Help Phone, JDRF, Live Different and The Rick Hansen
Foundation through sales of the paper hearts and unique pizzas.
But this huge corporate fundraiser has a very homegrown,
staff-led "origin story", which started here in Edmonton - and a
Best Bar None connection.
In September of 1991, Boston Pizza franchise owners David and
Lisa MacPherson's second son Kyle was born with a troubling heart
defect, called a "hyperplastic right heart". Basically, according
to his brother Neil, "he was born with half a heart."
In order to show support and solidarity for the restaurant
owners, staff at the NAIT Boston Pizza located in Edmonton decided
to take action. The following weeks leading up to Valentine's day
1992 the team - unbeknownst to the owners - crafted handmade paper
hearts out of construction paper, which were sold to guests for $1
with the proceeds going to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. In
fact, 1003 handmade hearts were sold in that first year.
Word spread to BP head office about this charitable staff
initiative and the sale of paper hearts has become a huge component
of the annual Valentine's Day Heart-Shaped Pizza campaign the next
Today, Kyle (who is living a full life) and his two brothers
Ewen and Neil are franchise owners of the North Central Boston
Pizza (9703 137 Avenue), which has proudly earned Best Bar
None-accredited for six years straight.
"It's very humbling for our family to see how a generous and
spontaneous act of support from our restaurant staff has turned
into a national fundraising campaign that has seen literally
millions of dollars funneled to kids' charities," said a proud Lisa
Neil MacPherson adds, "This national fundraiser had a simple and
humble origin story. It wouldn't have happened without some great
restaurant staff - and the guests who donated money. We look
forward every year to being involved in this great promotion. It is
just one more way to be a positive member of the community."
Kyle MacPherson at
the 2015 Best Bar None Awards event, receiving the restaurant and
bar's accreditation plaque from Mary Ann Debrinski of the City of
February 21, 2017