The Crowd: Argyros family’s $25-million gift to fight cancer celebrated at City of Hope gala

Kristin J. Bertell, from left, Annette M. Walker, Lisa Argyros, Nick Jonas, Stephanie Argyros and Robert Stone.
Gala VIPs included, from left, Kristin J. Bertell, chief philanthropy officer, City of Hope; Annette M. Walker, president, City of Hope Orange County; Lisa Argyros; Nick Jonas; Stephanie Argyros and Robert Stone, chief executive of City of Hope.
(Lester Cohen/Getty Images for City of Hope Orange County)

This week President Biden announced an initiative to eradicate cancer in America. His passion is born in the tragic loss of beloved son Beau Biden, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2015. Clearly, the fight is personal. Not just for the leader of the free world, but for countless humans across all ethnic, socioeconomic, religious and political stripes.

As Biden said, “You don’t have to be Republican or Democrat to want to end cancer.”

In Orange County this week, the cause was front and center. City of Hope received “a transformative gift” of $25 million from the Argyros family with the expressed purpose of “eradicating cancer and advancing the lifesaving mission of the City of Hope in Orange County,” according to Lisa O’Neill Hill, a spokesperson for City of Hope.

Last Saturday evening in the outdoor gardens of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, the “Gala of Hope” unfolded, starring Grammy-nominated recording and performing artist Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers.

For Jonas, the cause was also personal. “My father is a cancer survivor,” he said, adding, “I am honored to lend my voice to the important cause of expanding access to world-renowned cancer care at City of Hope.”

The threat of rain faded as the black-tie crowd converged, raising an additional $2 million to $3 million beyond the exemplary Argyros contribution. Not enough can be reported on the significance of the Argyros family philanthropy across all strata of society from healthcare to education, to family and child welfare issues, homelessness, social justice, arts, science, and support groups and causes of all variety.

Julia A. Argyros, president of the Argyros Family Foundation, announced a $25-million gift to City of Hope Orange County.
Julia A. Argyros, president of the Argyros Family Foundation, announced a $25-million gift from the Argyros family to City of Hope Orange County at the inaugural Hope Gala in her honor.
(Lester Cohen/Getty Images for City of Hope Orange County.

Appropriately, the elegant yet serious dinner gathering paid tribute to Julia Argyros, golden family matriarch, husband George, and daughters Lisa and Stephanie.

Arriving on scene wearing a ruby-red gown; classic, understated and flattering, the raven-haired Julia Argyros, patroness of O.C. society, flashed her warm and gracious smile, welcoming all who came to honor her, the family, and their long community association.

O’Neill Hill describes the Argyros relationship with City of Hope: “The Argyros family gift continues a decades-long legacy of extraordinary generosity and support from the family to City of Hope that has been pivotal to its evolution into a leading cancer research and treatment system. Argyros is a treasured name at City of Hope, one that is deeply connected to the daily rhythms of the first City of Hope campus near Los Angeles.

“The stunning Argyros Family Garden of Hope is a testament to the importance of caring for the whole person. Julia Argyros recalls sitting in the serene space in Duarte, observing patients and families pause and reflect in a place that represents healing,” O’Neill Hill concluded.

The Argyros Family name will grace a similar Healing Garden at the Orange County City of Hope facility.

Grammy-nominated Nick Jonas performs at City of Hope Orange County’s “Hope Gala” at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Grammy-nominated recording artist Nick Jonas performs at City of Hope Orange County’s inaugural “Hope Gala” at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Sept. 10.
(Lester Cohen/Getty Images for City of Hope Orange County)

Robert Stone, City of Hope’s chief executive, joined Kristin Bertell, chief philanthropy officer, expressing heartfelt gratitude for the Argyros gift and also for the support of many in attendance, most significantly, the George Wall Family, presenting sponsors with the Argyros Family. Again, for George Wall, the connection is personal. His gift comes as a tribute to his late wife Cate, who recently passed from cancer.

The gala was more than just another O.C. black-tie night out. The crowd consisted of longtime friends and many prominent business associates. Among them were, Marilyn and Robert Day, Hazem and Salma Chehabi, Hensel Phelps, Ann and Robert Conway, Marc and Jacqueline DuPont Carlson, Annette and Chuck Walker, and Carol and Steve Chudy.

Also front and center were the philanthropic and ever-glamorous Elizabeth Segerstrom, stunning Lynn Booth and Frank DeBella, a cancer survivor and major City of Hope advocate who raises major funds at his annual “Let’s Be Frank About Cancer” event.

Julia Argyros offered direct and simple words of hope, “We are honored to be in the position to support City of Hope, which is saving lives and expanding access to its advanced cancer care. We believe it is our privilege to give back to the community. We hope that this gift helps people get the care they need and that everyone who walks through the healing gardens at the new cancer center is filled with peace and hope.”

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