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The Crowd: Pickup Family Foundation gives $15 million to Hoag Neuroscience Institute

“Most of my life, I’ve been trying to build an estate,” said Richard “Dick” Pickup, “but when you reach your 80s, you realize that material things pale in comparison to what mankind can do with these monies.”

Pickup, a life-long stock broker and investor is a recent donor of a $15-million-dollar gift to the Hoag Neuroscience Institute.

Surrounded by several hundred distinguished guests coming together for a dinner celebration marking the 10th anniversary of the institute, Richard Pickup remained at his table accepting a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd made up of scientists, doctors, medical professionals and Hoag Hospital donors at large following the announcement of the Pickup family transformative gift.

It is the third largest donation ever made to the hospital.

Making the announcement to the dinner crowd, Hoag president and chief executive officer Robert T. Braithwaite said: “The Pickup family gift is further affirmation of Hoag’s growing national leadership in neurosciences. We are deeply grateful for their support and trust.”

The modest Richard Pickup chose not to speak; however he addressed the crowd via pre-recorded videotape.

His message was clear: This is a man intent on giving back to a community and its hospital, both of which have been a constant element behind his success in life.

The recent passing of his brother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease further enhanced the Pickup purpose to make a difference.

“I have found over the years that if you have passionate, educated people dedicated to long-term success, like those at Hoag, they make things happen,” said Pickup in his video address.

Several distinguished speakers followed and paid homage to his words.

Dr. Flynn Andrizzi, president of Hoag Hospital Foundation, commented: “The extraordinary innovation of the neuroscience institute would not be possible without the immense generosity of community members.”

Also front and center addressing the crowd was Dr. Michael Brant-Zawadzki representing the Ron and Sandi Simon Endowed Chair within the institute.

The Simons, among Newport’s most respected and charitable couples, were also in attendance.

Champion fundraiser Cindy Stokke, former co-chair with Randy Turner of the campaign advisory committee, received accolades for the tremendous campaign effort leading up to the Pickup donation.

Others at the podium included Dr. Michael Modic who flew in from Cleveland, Ohio, at the nationally respected Cleveland Clinic where he is the Chief Clinical Transformation Officer.

Modic praised the progress of Hoag’s Institute over its first 10 years, bullish on its future for the next decade.

Community activist Jerry Jones echoed the sentiments.

The setting for the upbeat dinner celebration was the ballroom of the Newport Beach Country Club, one of the Pickup and Martin family-owned properties in Newport Beach which also includes the Balboa Bay Resort and the venerable Balboa Bay Club, among others.

The evening began with a cocktail reception at dusk followed by a three-course dinner of exceptional quality that began with a serving of roasted butternut squash soup followed by an entrée of pan-seared filet and locally caught sea bass.

Richard Pickup was joined by his wife, Donna Pickup, and her daughter Julie Hamilton who had flown in from Lexington, Ky., where she and her husband raise national champion thoroughbred horses.

Richard Pickup’s daughter Devon Martin and her husband, Pickup business partner Kevin Martin, his son Todd Pickup and wife Natalie Pickup were all front and center to support their dad.

Sharing congratulations, dessert and coffee were close Pickup friends and associates Stephanie and Tim Busch, Joe Moody and Caroline Davenport, Rev. John Huffman, Peter and Gini Ueberroth, Curt and Varla Knauss, Ginger and Tony Allen, Joan and Andy Fimiano, Kurt and Wendy Lyon, and Barbara Venezia and Stan Tyzack.

In honor of the Pickup gift, Hoag’s Neuroscience Institute will be renamed the Pickup Family Neuroscience Institute.

Richard Pickup added: “There have been breakthroughs in cancer and cardiology and other areas of medicine, but there is still so much that is unknown about the brain.

“From Alzheimer’s to addictions and other brain disorders, we have a lot to learn. I am hoping that in the next 10 years or so we can make significant strides in these areas.”

As the crowd dispersed from the country club, Richard Pickup told friends that he hopes to be present for the 20th anniversary of the institute.

All of those hearing his words responded: “You can count on it.”

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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