Greater Irvine Chamber Leaders Circle Member City of Hope Raises More Than $1.2M at OC Gala

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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Greater Irvine Chamber Leaders Circle member City of Hope’s fifth annual “Let’s Be Frank About Cancer” Gala on March 23 grossed more than $1,258,000 to support life-saving cancer programs, bringing the event’s five-year fundraising total to more than $7,292,000. Orange County cancer survivors, community leaders, and noted physicians attended the event at the Hotel Irvine, with excitement in the air as City of Hope plans to extend its care this year with a world-class cancer center in Irvine.

The gala honored Emile Haddad, chairman and CEO, FivePoint, with the Frank Di Bella Humanitarian Award and Hazem Chehabi, MD with the Champion for Hope Award. The black tie affair also recognized its founder and cancer survivor Frank DiBella, who served as gala chairman along with gala co-chair, Donna Porter, president, Premier Framing, and 2018 honoree. Funds raised will support research by oncologist Sumanta K. Pal, M.D., co-director of the Kidney Cancer Program at City of Hope. Pal, who treated DiBella at City of Hope, focuses his work on understanding how cancers develop and metastasize, predicting cancer recurrence, and improving treatments with fewer side effects.

“I am so honored that so many people came to support such an amazing doctor, my friend Dr. Pal,” said Di Bella. “Thanks to the help of these contributions from private individuals and local businesses, City of Hope and Dr. Pal can continue to provide the ultimate care, leading-edge research and most importantly, HOPE, to patients like me. And now, with plans to bring City of Hope to Orange County, even more local lives will be impacted. I cannot wait to have this resource in our neighborhood.

Throughout the evening, DiBella and the evening’s guests cited the progress being made on extending City of Hope to Orange County, where 20 percent of diagnosed cancer patients currently leave the area for care. Plans are for a main campus near Irvine's Great Park with outreach throughout the region. Last month, City of Hope announced the development of a new site in Newport Beach.

“We are moving in and we want to work with the OC community to beat cancer together,” said Annette Walker, president, City of Hope Orange County. “It is great to have so many Orange County residents who support this initiative. They recognize the need for bringing tomorrow’s discoveries to our friends and neighbors who need them today.”

His Excellency Milan Panic and Marybelle and S. Paul Musco were the evening’s Platinum Sponsors, along with Sheila and James Peterson as the event’s Diamond Sponsor. Additionally, FivePoint, Mobilitie, LLC, the Stanley W. Ekstrom Foundation, Michael and Joann Sweig, and Ken and Cheri Ketner were all Gold Sponsors.

Among the 600-plus guests were Doug Freeman, Jim and Kelly Mazzo, and Art Kazarian of Medical Waste Services, who were all top donors of the evening, as well as Brett Park of Brightview Design Group, Hensel Phelps, and the UCI Foundation. Jann Carl, former Entertainment Tonight correspondent and co-host of the breakout reality hit “Small Town Big Deal,” served as Mistress of Ceremonies. Matt Mauser and the Pete Jacobs Big Band provided entertainment.

A touching moment in the evening was when Marybelle and Paul Musco surprised guests with a donation of a second kilo of gold in the live auction (after already giving one kilo) in honor of host committee member and City of Hope patient, Steven Hild. City of Hope President and CEO, Robert Stone, thanked guests and spoke of City of Hope’s exciting new vision for expanding cancer care in Orange County. While Mr. Di Bella warmly presented Dr. Chehabi with his Champion for Hope award and Mr. Haddad’s wife, Dina Haddad, added a very personal touch to the evening by presenting the award to him on behalf of their family.

Another exciting moment of the evening was the event’s ask to fund minutes of research in the lab which was kicked off by Donna Porter announcing she would match the first $50,000 raised. After many donations came in totaling more than $50,000, another donation challenge was made by His Excellency Milan Panic asking for a match to his $50,000 donation to which Tom and Mayumi Adams jumped to the challenge and matched with their $50,000 donation. In total more than $318,000 was raised in this fund-a-need portion of the night.

Other notable guests in attendance were Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, Dan Kang, and Christos Karmis, president of Mobilitie, LLC.

Di Bella was diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer in 2011 and was told by multiple doctors at two different centers that he only had months to live. Now, eight years later, he is still thriving. He credits Dr. Pal for saving his life, and he has made it his mission to support City of Hope’s ongoing research efforts.

About City of Hope

City of Hope is an independent biomedical research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a leader in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy such as CAR T cell therapy. City of Hope’s translational research and personalized treatment protocols advance care throughout the world. Human synthetic insulin and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs are based on technology developed at the institution. A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, City of Hope is ranked one of America's "Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Its main campus is located near Los Angeles, with additional locations throughout Southern California.

Leaders Circle members of the Greater Irvine Chamber are among the most influential companies and organizations in Irvine and Orange County. They take a proactive role in supporting the region’s business community at the highest level.

For information on how to become a part of this elite Leaders Circle group, contact Jessica Welch.

Category: Partner News, Member News

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