Legge Orr family donates $1M to MI4

Dream Big Campaign Co-Chair Suzanne Legge Orr and husband Jeff Orr have donated $1 million to create the Legge Orr MI4 Leadership Award. This new award will provide crucial funding to the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) to support its leadership as it drives MI4’s mission forward.

“While all the pillars of the Dream Big Campaign are extremely important, this one struck a chord with us,” says Suzanne Legge Orr. “Enabling the work to continue—and what we are going through right now with the pandemic—is how we ended up deciding to support MI4.”

The donation will support the leadership of MI4 Director Dr. Donald Sheppard, who created the initiative and is instrumental in its success. MI4 brings together over 250 researchers to find innovative solutions to some of the world’s deadliest diseases: tuberculosis, hepatitis C and COVID-19, to name just a few. Recognizing the importance of talented leadership, the Legge Orrs made an eight-year commitment to supporting Dr. Sheppard’s work, and that of MI4 leaders to come.

“Montreal is this great centre for medical research and this incredible base of knowledge,” says Jeff Orr. “We can make a real difference by supporting the research and brainpower at the MUHC. Our city came together to build this hospital, and now we are supporting the research happening inside.”

Giving back is important to the couple, and together Suzanne and Jeff have donated generously to the causes most important to them.

“It’s just part of who we always have been,” says Suzanne. “It is really important to support the community we live in, in every way we can.”

A lifelong volunteer, Suzanne has done much good for the Montreal community and beyond. She is Co-Chair of the MUHC Foundation’s Dream Big Campaign. Her love of art led her to several volunteer roles with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, including a seat on the Board of Trustees. She also spent many years volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross, and travelled abroad with the organization to witness its work.

Jeff is a member of Centraide of Montreal’s 2020 Major Donors Cabinet, and believes strongly in giving back to the community.

“You are not a happy person if you are not giving,” says Jeff. “You spend ninety-eight percent of your time thinking ‘how am I going to get what I need’ and ‘how is it going to work,’ but in fact, most of your satisfaction comes from giving. You get more back from giving than you receive.”

Both born and raised in Montreal, Suzanne and Jeff met in their first year at the University of Western Ontario (now Western University.) They became a couple just before graduation, and have been together ever since. They were married in 1985, and have lived in both Montreal and Toronto, considering both home.

The Legge Orr family’s gift comes at a crucial time for MI4, which mobilized early last year to find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic. MI4 has 50+ completed or ongoing projects related to understanding the coronavirus, halting transmission, developing treatments and vaccines, and more.

“We are so grateful to Suzanne and Jeff for their transformative support,” says Julie Quenneville, President of the MUHC Foundation. “They recognize how crucial MI4 is not only to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, but combatting infectious diseases that have plagued humanity for thousands of years.”

The Legge Orr family’s strong commitment to Montreal and to giving back is one that will benefit not only our community, but the world.