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Joining me at the Saddleback Memorial Foundation's "A Celebration of Hope" gala was it chair Bebe Shaddock

Joining me at the Saddleback Memorial Foundation’s “A Celebration of Hope” gala was its chair Bebe Shaddock

Bebe Shaddock is an inspiration! She is a beautiful lady who has a passion for Saddleback Memorial Medical Center. Having served as past chairman of the Saddleback Memorial Foundation, she chaired its annual spring gala, “A Celebration of Hope,” in May at The Ritz-Carlton Resort in Dana Point. Bebe, having been a patient herself at the hospital and having lost her dear husband there, says, “My husband was in the best of hands. I have friends whose lives have been saved there. I feel the hospital is a safe place, both physically and emotionally.”

The sold-out gala, attended by nearly 500 people, included physicians, corporate sponsors, the senior leadership of both the medical center and foundation, and many grateful patients and their families. The celebratory affair toasted the opening of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center’s MemorialCare Cancer Institute, which just opened this past Saturday, to which SMMC’s CEO Steve Geidt said, “It will move us to the next generation of cancer services.” Geidt thanked the many generous supporters who made the cancer institute a reality, in particular, Laguna Woods resident and longtime hospital supporter Gary Damsker for his seven-figure donation in naming the Damsker Family Pavillion.

The live auction, led by masterful auctioneer Zach Krone, featured some hot items, among them the First Car at Valet, which sold twice to Diane and Dwight Devlin and Aileen and Kevin Grant (Aileen is a SMF board member). The VIP Parking also saw two takers at $3,250 each. The winners, who were allowed a designated parking spot in front of the hospital’s main lobby for one year with free car washes, included Sea View Pediatric Medical Associates’ Dr. Mary Ann Wilkinson and Dr. Mary O’Toole, who is with Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group and was a gala committee member. But, the piece de resistance, as far as I was concerned, was the Pies You Can’t Buy item. It seems Steve Geidt is a fabulous pie maker and has offered a pie a month for one year at previous galas. The popular offering sold twice to Dr. William and Cheri Wallace (Dr. Wallace is with South Orange County Surgical Medical Group) and Pam and Peter Pellizzon (Peter is with Hollencrest Capital Management). Both couples paid $3,000 for the pies!

During the “Gifts from the Heart” portion of the evening, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center’s Chaplain Anette Rihovsky spoke about the compassionate care patients receive at SMMC by the physicians and nursing staff. She shared her personal experiences dealing with cancer through her aunt’s passing at a young age and her husband George’s bout with it. Thankfully in remission, she said George, who was a cancer patient at SMMC, was treated with dignity and respect.

Monies raised in the Fund-A-Need portion of the evening were designated for the cancer institute’s outdoor healing Garden of Hope, which will provide a respite from the stress of cancer for patients and their families. More than $60,000 was raised towards the garden, which is being designed and landscaped by Roger’s Gardens, represented by Karin and Barry Fulton and Laura and Chuck Belville at the gala.

Others making remarks included Saddleback Memorial Foundation President Cecilia Belew and its Board of Director Chair Bill Phillips. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the heartfelt video, “A Celebration of Hope,” which was shown early on in the evening. It featured the personal journeys of five grateful cancer patients, plus one granddaughter of a patient, and touched hearts. Those highlighted included Josh Snyder (age 40, bladder cancer), Dr. Marc Winter (age 55, breast cancer), Barbara Werth (age 48, breast cancer), David Chadwich (age 59, lung cancer), Cheryl Tempel (age 60, ovarian cancer), and Dr. Leila Rasouli (the granddaughter whose grandmother Alice was cared for at SMMC).

The Derek Bordeaux Band was the perfect finale for the inspiring evening, and the packed dance floor proved it. The gala netted $230,000 for the new MemorialCare Cancer Institute. Philllips announced next year’s gala date at The Ritz-Carlton: Saturday, April 25, 2015. Bebe was all smiles!

For the Record: Saddleback Memorial Medical Center is a member of the MemorialCare Health System and was named Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News & World Report for the past three years. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System is comprised of five top hospitals: Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial in Fountain Valley, and Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills and San Clemente.

Selected photos by Paul Gero

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