The Crowd: Children's gala brings in $606,000

It was one of the most enchanting parties of the social season. Organizers created a magical, supernatural world of color and composition, where acrobatic models swung from the rafters, floated in giant plastic bubbles and draped themselves around pillars like human pretzels.

The Children's Hospital of Orange County Cherishes Children Gala Saturday evening at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach raised an impressive $606,000 for CHOC. The funds are earmarked for Change CHOC, Change the World, a campaign launched in 2010 to finance the future of CHOC as a sustainable world-class institution. Toward that end, CHOC is building a state-of-the-art facility, set to open in 2013. Along with the building campaign, a major endowment fund has been created as well as an association established with the UC Irvine School of Medicine focusing on both academic and research aspects of pediatric care.

The success of the recent gala dinner fundraiser was due to the efforts of Chairwoman Lori Hirth and her committee including Christine Bren, Kristina Dodge, Monica Furman, Kathryn Glassmyer, Heather Madden, and Marsha Willis and David Willis. The spectacular party was produced by Patrice Poidmore, a member of the CHOC foundation staff. She called on the talents of Floral Creations by Enzo, Shine Lighting, Karla Ross Productions, and a band called TC Traffic Jamm to put together a party that was sold out with some 300 devoted CHOC guests in attendance.

In the crowd were Brent McMahon, Gift of Life sponsor, Larry Thacker and Donna Nestor, Gift of Life sponsor, Susan Samueli, George Kalogridis, Sandy Daniels, honorary chairwoman of Change CHOC, Change the World, Nicole and Reed McMackin, Milan and Milena Panic, Kenneth and Debbie Venner, Heather and Jim Madden, David and Julianna Pyott, Bill Peters, Reza and Maryam Rofougaran and Jim and Kelly Mazzo.

A Newport Beach lad, 13-year-old cancer patient Tomasso Conforti was named as the 2011 CHOC Children's Campaign Ambassador. Tomasso, known as Tommy, was presented with a gift from South Coast Plaza by Daniels as the crowd applauded the role of the new ambassador. He will spend the next year appearing at various events and sharing his personal story of fighting cancer as part of Change CHOC, Change the World. For more information, contact Denise Almazan at DAlmazan@CHOC.ORG.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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