The 23rd annual Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH) Foundation Gala presented by Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs raised an astounding $1,312,165 on Thursday, Feb. 11. Proceeds from the event, held at Riverside Convention Center and themed “Illuminate: The Path to Vision 2020,” will benefit the Vision 2020 campaign to build a new Children’s Hospital tower.
“We are grateful to each and every individual and organization who made the success of the gala possible,” said Jillian Payne, executive director, LLUCH Foundation. “The continued support allows Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital to illuminate hope and healing in our community.”
The program opened with a special performance of “This Little Light of Mine” and the national anthem by the Mount Rubidoux Seventh-day Adventist Children’s Choir.
Chef Robert Irvine, host of Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible,” was the celebrity guest and assisted with the live auction portion of the evening, along with auctioneer Jim Nye. Irvine had visited with patients at the hospital prior to the gala and he shared his experience with gala guests, encouraging them to spread some generosity.
“It was an unforgettable experience to spend time with these kids,” Irvine said. “We all are here for one thing, and it is those children who need our help.”
One patient who did get that help was 2-year-old Mariah Salomon from the Coachella Valley. In August last year, a large portion of Mariah’s face – from the top of her nose to the top of her lip, including a large part of her cheek – was re-implanted after she was bitten by a dog. The team of doctors who treated her agreed that re-implanting her facial tissue was probably the most intrinsically rewarding case they’d ever done. Three weeks after the incident, Maria was able to go home. Mariah and her mom, Veronica Pena, were recognized on stage during the gala.
Watch Mariah’s story below.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by The Silhouettes who earned worldwide acclaim on season six of “America’s Got Talent.” They created beautiful shadow imagery and an inspirational story line of a young girl’s journey through life after receiving care at LLUCH.
The evening concluded with a check presentation that lit up the room. Loma Linda University Medical Center CEO Kerry Heinrich expressed his appreciation to the supporters of LLUCH after the event.
“Our Children’s Hospital is a place where hope lives for patients, parents, families and friends,” Heinrich said. “Thank you for choosing to illuminate a path worth taking. You are a vital source of strength and power – a building block for our bright future.”