Charities have been getting into the Thanksgiving spirit by presenting fundraising galas to say “thanks for giving” to the supporters of their worthwhile causes. The most fabulous events are held in Beverly Hills, and there’s been a plethora of them putting the spotlight on extraordinary people and outstanding organizations.
UCLA’s Visionary Ball
There were a lot of visionaries at the 2016 Visionary Ball benefiting the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery. The evening raised funds to battle the most complex neurological disorders of this era. Honorary Chairs were Roma Downey and Mark Burnett; gala chairs were Edie Baskin Bronson and Susan Dolgen, and sponsored by Edie Baskin Bronson and Richard “Skip” Bronson. The UCLA Department of Neurosurgery under the direction of uber-visionary Dr. Neil A. Martin and W. Eugene Stern, honored Michael V. Lewis with the Visionary Award; Dr. Linda M. Liau with the Medical Visionary Award, and Jon Lovitz with the Rodney Respect Award on October 27 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Producer Donald P. Bellisario (NCIS, Quantum Leap) received the Courage Award from NCIS’ David McCallum. Don’s proud wife Vivienne Bellisario was on hand along with a ballroom full of celebrities, doctors, and other VIPs including Sherry Lansing, Brad Silver, Michael Turnbull, Lisa and Jeff Probst, and Chancellor Gene Block.
India Carney (The Voice 8th season) sang a soulful “Roar.” Emmy-winning writer and performer Larry Wilmore hosted and cleverly performed magic tricks while noting that the accomplishments of the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery are “more like ‘magic’ than medicine. And it is fascinating to me to see how so much that was once science fiction is now medical fact.”
Boys & Girls Club of America
The kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) were the real VIPs at the BGCA’s annual Great Futures Gala. A highlight was having some Club kids performed their Lyricism 101 program focusing on the art of freestyling to help teens build self-esteem and develop music and performance skills. The positivity with their raps impressed the crowd.
The 2016 Great Futures Gala honored Club members and Club alum on November 3 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. BGCA Trustees Steve Mosko and Eric Shanks, President and Executive Producer of FOX Sports co-chaired the event. Comedian Jay Mohr emceed and classical pianist Chloe Flower performed joined by local Club members Mya and Miguel.
Raising the bar for all Club kids was keynote speaker and Club alumnus of the Boys & Girls Club of Buena Park, award-winning director-producer Justin Lin. Lin’s films have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide, including Star Trek Beyond and The Fast and the Furious franchise 3 through 6. Lin credits Boys & Girls Clubs for changing his life and creating an opportunity for him to dream big and succeed.
The Caritas Gala
The Irene Dunne Guild and Saint John’s Health Center Foundation Board of Trustees presented the 2016 Caritas Gala on October 22 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The Caritas Gala honored actress Jennifer Beals, Olympian Allyson Felix, and Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan on behalf of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation. A special performance by singer-songwriter-actress Alisan Porter was featured. Porter was the recent winner of season 10 of NBC’s hit talent show The Voice. With great entertainment, dinner and awards, the black-tie affair was a sensational way to give thanks.
The Friendly House
The Peggy Albrecht Friendly House honored actress Katey Sagal with the Woman of the Year Award for her continuing support of the first residential program in the country for women recovering from alcohol and drug abuse. On hand to cheer for Katey were her husband producer-director Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy), daughter Sarah Grace White, and son Jackson James White. Philanthropists Linell and Robert Shapiro were presented with the Humanitarian Award by son Grant Shapiro at the 27th annual Awards Luncheon on October 29 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Broadcasting great Pat O’Brien served as emcee, and Sherri Lewis sang “Being Alive,” and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” in honor of Friendly Houses’ 65th anniversary of recovery support.
The most popular VIP in the room was Executive Director Peggy Albrecht, who is beloved by everyone. On hand to celebrate Albrecht’s continued success was Assistant Director Monica Phillips, Board President Michael Collum, Beverly Sassoon, Tony Denison, John Savage, Board Member Rika Broccoli and Tony Broccoli, “Grateful Heart” Lois Lindley, and luncheon Co-Chairs Sydney Holland and Howard Samuels.