Social entrepreneur headlining annual Kathy Barnett luncheon 

Toronto business leader Theresa Laurico will speak in Whistler March 7

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The aim this year is to empower change at the annual Kathy Barnett Luncheon. To match the theme of the event, the guest speaker this year is social entrepreneur Theresa Laurico, the creator of the SociaLIGHT conference in Toronto.

Luncheon organizer Heather Odendaal said Laurico speaks from the heart.

"She has a very cool story," said Odendaal.

"She got to this point where she asked, 'Is what I do with my life worth my life?' From that she entered into a number of competitions in Toronto around being an entrepreneur."

Laurico will share more in her talk on Friday, March 7 at the Westin Whistler Resort and Spa from noon until 2 p.m.

"She really speaks about that idea of people, planet, profit and what that means is being an entrepreneur and doing what you love and helping the planet, the community, whatever it is you want to give back," Odendaal said.

According to Odendaal, the SociaLIGHT conference is an adult version of the We Day events hosted across Canada for school kids.

"She's really worked on a lot of events that help take people from business startup to the next level," said Odendaal.

The annual SociaLIGHT conference is billed as the ultimate leadership and entrepreneurship event. It's focused on empowering and inspiring. The conference is expanding beyond Toronto with a Vancouver event scheduled for June 7.

Previous SociaLIGHT conferences in Toronto have included guest speaker lineups consisting of business leaders, authors and media producers. One of the best-known presenters at previous SociaLIGHT events is Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group.

Laurico is a media producer who has done projects with CTV, MuchMusic, HGTV, Rogers and CityTv.

Other projects led by Laurico include national campaigns benefiting people in the Philippines, Kenya, Peru and Tibet. The Tibet project provided eye restoration surgeries for 208 people in that country.

In addition to coming to Whistler to speak, Laurico is connected to Whistler in one more way. Laurico is a supporter of Change Heroes, the same organization Whistler resident Dee Raffo worked with to raise money to build a school with Free The Children.

Odendaal explained that Change Heroes encourages people to find 30 friends who will commit to giving $3.33 a day for three months and pool it all together to assemble $10,000.

"Theresa partnered with Change Heroes to get 100 people so one of her big missions this year is to get 100 people to sign up for Change Heroes," said Odendaal. "I'm going to do it."

Laurico's campaign will raise $1 million by the end of 2014 to build 100 schools.

Television news broadcaster Sophie Lui will host the Kathy Barnett lunch. This year marks the memorial fund's fourth year of hosting a luncheon in Barnett's memory.

To date, the luncheon has raised more than $65,000. The funds support women in Whistler by providing educational grants.

Tickets for the luncheon are available through the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

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