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IMG_3196It was a great night for the supporters of CHOC Children’s! The children’s hospital’s newseven-story tower was built, and it was time to celebrate. The $125 million “Change CHOC, Change the World” campaign, launched in spring 2010, has built a state-of-the-art patient care tower, which has helped CHOC realize its dream of achieving national recognition as a premier children’s hospital. It sounds like it’s well on its way with U.S. News & World Report (2012-2013) naming it one of the best children’s hospitals in the country. Hear! Hear!

The achievement was celebrated at the fifth annual CHOC Cherishes Children gala, this year themed, “A Future Built on Hope.” Gala chair Heather Madden, who chaired the first gala and has been a stalwart committee member since, said the evening was not just to celebrate the new tower but to thank all the supporters who made it possible. On a personal note, she said, “It means a lot to me to know that sick children can have the best care at CHOC Children’s.”

The sold-out affair, held at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, drew 475 guests to the dinner dance celebration. The blackened ballroom walls were filled with silver stars, and dinner tables covered in seafoam crinkled linens featured glass pedestaled floating votives and displays of beautiful pink and purple orchids. The wall behind the stage was amazing and something I hadn’t seen before – one long video wall displaying images of the CHOC’s new tower, auction items, photos of CHOC parents and their children, etc. It was impressive!

The official proceedings began with a warm welcome from CHOC Children’s Foundation Board of Directors Chair Sam Auriemma, who especially thanked Madden and her gala committee’s efforts. CHOC Children’s President/CEO Kimberly Cripe gave special recognition to the McCarthy Building Companies and its tower construction team, who built the tower, and presented the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange and St. Joseph Hospital of Orange with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Accepting was Sister Theresa La Metterey, General Councilor of the Sisters of Orange, and Steve Moreau, St. Joseph Hospital President/CEO. A surprise announcement came when Cripe acknowledged a $27 million donation to CHOC from Bill Holmes, for whom the new tower is named The Bill Holmes Tower. The ballroom erupted in applause for the humble man at the podium.

The evening’s live auction featured some great items, including a Martha’s Vineyard getaway won by committee member and former gala chair Christine Bren for $13,000 and a Big Island of Hawaii luxury golf vacation won by longtime CHOC supporters Missy and Chris Callero for $26,000. New CHOC supporter Keri Moghardebi won a Harry Winston “Brilliant Futures Hope Bracelet” for $10,000. It was the last of 25 bracelets the renowned jeweler created to fundraise for CHOC. The Derek Bordeaux Group closed out the evening for dancing, and net proceeds of $550,000 were reported to help round out the capital campaign, which runs through June 30, 2013.

Selected photos by Bob Hodson Photography