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Joining me at the Saddleback Memorial Foundation Gala, "A Night for Gratitude???," were the gala co-chairs ?????? and ??????. ???? is a doctor at SM and Phillips is Mayor of Aliso Viejo and Chairman of the SMF Board of Directors

Joining me at the Saddleback Memorial Foundation Gala, “An Evening for Gratitude,” were gala co-chairs, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center’s Dr. Mary O’Toole and her husband Bill Philllips, who is chair of the foundation’s board of directors and Mayor of Aliso Viejo

Saddleback Memorial Foundation President Cecilia Belew captured the evening by saying, “I am so thankful for this charitable community and the philanthropic efforts that continue to help us invest in the latest technology, programs and services. It’s these advances that enable us to continue our commitment to fighting cancer and create a local healing environment right in our patients’ backyard.”

The nearly 500 guests who attended the sold-out Saddleback Memorial Foundation’s “An Evening of Gratitude” gala at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel helped net $245,000 in support of the MemorialCare Breast Center at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center to acquire additional technology to help detect breast cancer at its earlier stage.

Kudos were also in order for the recent addition to Saddleback Memorial of nationally recognized breast radiologist Gary Levine, M.D., the new medical director of MemorialCare Breast Centers and the gala’s special guest speaker. Dr. Levine said he believes that the evolution in breast screening technology will soon see the 3-D Tomosynthesis imaging machine as the new gold standard, replacing 2-D digital mammography for all women. To that end, the gala’s “Fund a Need” raised $75,000 for the acquisition of the third unit for Saddleback Memorial.

Saddleback Memorial CEO Steve Geidt lauded the donors, volunteers and dedicated staff, who he said helped Saddleback achieve the recent Healthgrades ‘America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award,’ which is 1% of 4,500 hospitals in the country. “We truly have so much to be thankful for this year,” he said.

Auctioneer Dan Walsh, who attributed his successful 1996 quadruple bypass surgery to Saddleback, led a spirited live auction, which featured a Santa Barbara polo match, New York City Fashion Week and a Broadway show, dinner for 10 with Celebrity Chef Dean Sheremet, a superb collection of fine wines, and a chance to acquire a reserved parking spot in front of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center. Gala chairs Dr. Mary O’Toole and Bill Phillips won it (they won it last year!), but this year, two were offered, and Dr. Mary Ann Wilkinson, a pediatrician with Sea View Pediatric Medical Associates, won it as well.

However, the hot auction item was the home baked pies – one a month for one year – baked by Steve Geidt. Thanks to the generosity of the Saddleback CEO, four people we’re able to purchase the pies (they item went for $3,000 each). They included Doris and David Law, M.D., Pam and Peter Pelizzon, Ellies and Michael Watanabe, M.D., and Erin and Scott McPherson. Smiles abounded!

Guests who purchased a “Pink Ribbon Shell Necklace” for $100 ($11,000 was raised) had the chance to win the opportunity prize, which included driving a one-of-a-kind Aston Martin to The Ritz-Carlton for a two-night stay in a Club Level guest room, with culinary offerings, including dining at Raya restaurant. James Theel, husband of Machelle Theel, Executive Director of Clinical/Quality Improvement at SMMC, was the winner.

Grateful Saddleback patient Kim O’Donoghue, who was in attendance, was featured in a moving video, where she stated, “I would like to tell everyone on my care team how much I appreciate them. I’m here today because of you.” O’Donoghue’s breast surgeon Dr. Michele Carpenter and oncologist Dr. Merry Tetef were also gala guests.

Always a dancing crowd, the evening segued to the dance floor and the musical stylings of the talented Derek Bordeaux Band.

Photo of Kim O’Donoghue with Drs. Michele Carpenter and Merry Tetef by Paul Gero