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Maria Bello leaps into pool, Michael Bolton serenades, Olivia Wilde shares heartfelt stories of Haiti at Fifth Annual Artists for Peace and Justice Fundraiser

September 9, 2013

YellowBrix

Display of extraordinary commitment as celebrities Adrien Brody, Colin Firth, Jason Sudeikis, Peter Tunney and more gather to celebrate APJ's accomplishments

TORONTO, Sept. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - The stars wore their hearts on their sleeves and shared in an afternoon of song, story and swimming(!) for the annual Artists for Peace and Justice Festival Lunch. Co-hosted by Paul Haggis, George Stroumboulopoulos, Pascal Raffy, Diane Bald and Michael Budman at the Budman's private family residence, the fifth annual Bovet 1822 and Artists for Peace and Justice Festival Lunch presented with Roots Canada had no less than three guests leap into the Budman's pool.

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Maria Bello, dressed in a bright red designer suit and Louboutins, jumped into the pool fully clothed after a winning bid of $20,000, which was raised in a spirited live auction. A member of Daniel Lanois's band jumped in with her, swimming for a few moments before pulling himself out of the water. Later, when the auctioneers spotted an iPod at the bottom of the pool, pop graphic artist Peter Tunney made the plunge and brought the device to dry land.This was just the beginning of the action as stars took time out of their busy film festival schedules to support APJ. Adrien Brody and Moran Atias talk about the work of APJ and the value of Hollywood coming together for this important cause. Making a quick stopover in Toronto from Tokyo while on world tour, Michael Bolton was brilliant as two women won the bid to be serenaded by the award-winning singer with his hit song "When A Man Loves A Woman" just days before, Bolton's daughter Holly gave birth to his grandson, Dylan. Colin Firth, Jason Sudeikis, Caitlin Cronenberg, Stacey McKenzie, Jian Ghomeshi showed their support and attended the lunch. The two hundred and fifty person ticketed event also featured musical performances by Grammy-award-winning vocalist, producer and songwriter Daniel Lanois and prolific singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright.

"Each year our friends in Hollywood and Toronto come together at during the film festival to celebrate our work and to keep the spotlight on Haiti and our life-changing programs. We're so proud and excited of everything we have been able to achieve. Our remarkable supporters have ensured that we can welcome 2,000 high school students back to school this year, and I am so grateful for their help," said APJ founder, Paul Haggis.

Olivia Wilde, an APJ board director since its inception, told a moving anecdote of having met a young Haitian boy named Wilson who vows to one day be the president of the United States. She spoke of the care that this young boy takes to ensure that his school uniform is immaculate and his homework is perfect; tasks that Wilde, as a schoolgirl, didn't necessarily pay attention to or consider so important. This schoolboy places such a high value on his education that he considers his teachers to be heroes, his stars.

"We made a commitment to Haiti for the long-term," explains Haggis. "We believe that every human being deserves a chance. By providing free high school and college education, we're giving these kids the tools they need to live and thrive, and everyone can help."

Since 2009, APJ has raised millions of dollars for its programs and partners in Haiti. Immediately following the 2010 earthquake, APJ funded the purchase of land and construction to create the Academy for Peace and Justice in partnership with the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, a massive free middle and high school that serves the poorest of the poor. Each year since then, APJ and its partners have funded an aggressive annual expansion of The Academy, growing it by 400 students each year. The Academy currently serves 1800 students and will reach 2800 students at full capacity in 2017. APJ's newest educational investment in Haiti is the Artists Institute, a free college for art and technology in the coastal city of Jacmel in partnership with the We Are The World Foundation and Cine Institute.

The event, made possible by a number of partners, was one of the most star-studded of the festival. The Budman residence was a stunning backdrop to the all the fundraising activities and speeches.

"We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to our major sponsors Bovet 1822, Roots Canada and Audi Canada for helping make this event possible," says CEO, David Belle. "I would also like to personally thank Diane Bald and Michael Budman for their generosity as this year's co-hosts and to give an additional thank you to all past and present event organizing committee members, partners and volunteers who have helped to make APJ in Canada such an enormous success."

Images from the event can be downloaded here.

For more information or to donate now, visit www.apjnow.org or follow Artists for Peace and Justice on Twitter @artistsforpeace, and use the hashtag #APJFest13 to see all event highlights. Charitable Registration #82296 2205 RR0001.

About Artists for Peace and Justice:

Founded by filmmaker Paul Haggis, Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) is a non-profit organization that encourages peace and social justice and addresses issues of poverty around the world. APJ's immediate goal is to serve the poorest communities in Haiti with programs in education, healthcare, and dignity. The organization is committed to long-term, sustainable development in direct partnership with the Haitian people. The model is simple: APJ believes in empowering local communities, fostering economic growth, and the power of education to change a nation. APJ is based in New York; David Belle serves as its CEO. APJ Canada is based in Toronto; Sally Lee serves as its Director of Development.

SOURCE Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ)

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