Toronto Maple Leafs give more bang for their puck with the Sun Life Financial Helping Buds program

The program raises money for the MLSE Foundation and the Breakaway Hockey Program

TORONTO, Dec. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - Sun Life Financial is putting its money into a different type of investment - diabetes prevention. Teaming up with the MLSE Foundation, the financial services company launched the Sun Life Financial Helping Buds program Sunday as the Toronto Maple Leafs played host to the Carolina Hurricanes. The program is a two-year partnership between Sun Life Financial and the MLSE Foundation that aims to educate youth about diabetes prevention through healthy and active living.

"We're honoured to partner with the MLSE Foundation to raise awareness about diabetes prevention in Canada," said Paul Joliat, Assistant Vice-President, Philanthropy, Sun Life Financial. "The Sun Life Financial Helping Buds program will grant access to hockey programs for youth at risk of developing diabetes which will promote a healthy and active lifestyle. This program supports our continued efforts to educate and empower Canadians to join us in preventing and managing this disease."

As part of the program, Sun Life Financial will donate $100 to the MLSE Foundation for every assist made by a Toronto Maple Leaf at all Leafs home games until April 12, 2013, up to a maximum of $50,000. In addition, ambassadors of this program, David Clarkson and James Van Riemsdyk, have a special role to play as for every assist they get, $200 will be donated. Sun Life Financial has also called on Leafs Nation to participate in the Sun Life Financial Helping Buds program. Each time fans tweet out #HelpingBuds, an additional $2 will be donated.

"The Helping Buds program is a great way to engage both the Toronto Maple Leafs and its passionate fan-base into making a positive impact in the community, focusing on getting youth active and moving," said Michael Bartlett, Senior Director, Corporate Responsibility, MLSE Foundation. "With Sun Life Financial's help, the Foundation and the Breakaway Hockey program will make a significant difference in the lives of youth at the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office who wouldn't otherwise have access to the sport."

To help encourage healthy active living and prevention of diabetes in youth, the MLSE Foundation will use the funds raised by the Sun Life Financial Helping Buds program to maintain the Breakaway Hockey program at Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office (TNO) until 2017. This program is crucial as it is helping to make the sport more accessible for underprivileged youth and encouraging an active lifestyle to prevent the disease.

Sun Life Financial, MLSE Foundation and Toronto Maple Leafs launch Helping Buds

The funds will also help the MLSE Foundation host two on-ice hockey clinics at Air Canada Centre for kids and families enrolled in the Breakaway Hockey Program. As a special treat, Toronto Maple Leaf players will be on-hand to lead the clinics and give TNO youth the rare opportunity to learn from their hockey heroes. These clinics will also include a diabetes prevention component that will educate the community's youth about the importance of healthy living including regular exericise and nutritional information.

The Breakaway Hockey Program introduces hockey to 60 to 80 new Canadian girls and boys at no cost. In teaching hockey to youth, this program hopes to develop life skills such as teamwork, self-confidence and respect. It also aims to provide programs such as academic tutoring and teaching healthy eating to prevent diabetes in an at-risk South Asian population.

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of September 30, 2013 the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $590 billion. For more information please visit www.sunlife.com.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

About MLSE Foundation
The MLSE Foundation believes all kids should have access to sport and the opportunity to develop lasting dreams on the playing field. With the support of all four MLSE teams - the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and Toronto Marlies - the Foundation funds the refurbishment of local athletic facilities and programs that support kids through sports and recreation. Since launching in December 2009, the MLSE Foundation has invested more than $9.5 million into our community. Last season, more than 110,000 kids' lives were impacted through the power of sport. Visit mlsefoundation.org, or follow @MLSEFoundation.

SOURCE Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.

For further information:

Media contacts:
Abby Albino, Coordinator, Corporate Communications, MLSE, 416-815-5455
Carmela Antolino, Communications Manager, Sun Life Financial, 416-408-7246