Red, White & Denim

Sunday, October 2, 2022
Los Angeles, CA

Red, White & Denim - 15th Anniversary Backyard Bash

Operation Mend’s 15th anniversary celebration raises more than $1.1 million for wounded veterans

100% of which will go directly to warrior and caregiver treatment.

UCLA Health’s Operation Mend held its 15th anniversary Red, White & Denim Backyard Bash on Oct. 2 at the home of founding family members, Dana and Todd Katz. Over 500 guests attended, including 44 warriors who have been treated for physical and psychological wounds related to their post 9/11-era military service through Operation Mend programs.

Operation mend 15 anniversary logo

Operation Mend provides surgical and medical treatment, comprehensive psychological evaluation and support, and intensive treatment programs for PTSD, traumatic brain injury and substance use disorder. It is the only program in the nation that includes caregivers alongside their warriors as full participants in a mental health treatment program for veterans. Family-centered care is a core value of Operation Mend and is critical to warriors’ healing processes. Thanks to generous donors, all travel, accommodations, case management and treatment are provided at no cost to veterans and caregivers.

“Operation Mend’s 15th Anniversary Celebration represents the long-term commitment UCLA has made to treating our military, veterans and their caregivers suffering from the visible and invisible wounds of war. I am grateful to the Katz family for welcoming so many Operation Mend team members and supporters to their home to honor the wounded warriors and their families, who have sacrificed so much to be with us,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

A highlight of the evening’s program were the stories shared by Operation Mend patients and family members. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Darius Johnson, an Operation Mend patient who participated in Operation Mend’s physical injury program and in the intensive treatment program for PTSD following horrific injuries sustained in Afghanistan, told the audience that Operation Mend has helped him restart his life.

“The program gave me the tools to accept that what happened wasn’t my fault, it was beyond my control,” said Johnson, who in 2011 survived two improvised explosive device (IED) explosions, one right after the other, in Afghanistan. “You can’t do this stuff on your own, and you can’t do it half-way. Once I realized all this, change kind of happened all at once. My mom and I went back to South Carolina. I got my bachelor’s degree, and she completed her doctorate. I got married – my wife is here with me tonight – and I just started a master’s program in business and leadership."

Special recognition was given to program founder, Ronald A. Katz, whose initial gift to UCLA, ongoing financial support of the program and continuing leadership of Operation Mend’s advisory board have been instrumental in enabling the program’s sustainability and growth. The idea for bringing together the leadership of UCLA and the army was inspired by his late wife, Maddie. Their efforts have resulted in life-changing – and often life-saving – care for the wounded post-9/11 military service member and veteran community.

The inaugural Maddie Katz Humanitarian Award was presented to Gary Ghazarian for his contributions to advancing the mission of Operation Mend. Since he began volunteering with the Buddy Program in 2013, Ghazarian has provided social support to 18 warriors. He is also a member of the Operation Mend Board of Advisors.

U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam veteran Ric Ryan, known as “The Walking Man of Murphys, California,” joined the celebration with his wife, Joanne. Ryan has been walking to raise money for Operation Mend since 2008 as a coping strategy to manage his own PTSD. This year, he surpassed 10,000 miles, raising not only awareness, but also funds in excess of $160,000 for Operation Mend.

Clark Gregg, actor and director of The Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. emceed the event. Actors Joel Grey, Jennifer Grey, Ruta Lee and Patrika Darbo also attended. Citizen Queen provided entertainment.

Special thanks to the Katz Family, The Thalians, Operation Mend Board Members, retired four-star Generals Peter Chiarelli and James “Jim" Amos, and retired General Michael Linnington, CEO of the Wounded Warrior Project.


Ronald A. Katz - Honoring our program founder

Ronald A. Katz

In the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ron Katz and his late wife Maddie felt a duty to do something meaningful to help the men and women serving our nation in the military. They visited Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio in January 2007 and made a lead gift toward completion of a Fisher House, where military families stay free of charge while their loved ones are in the hospital. Soon after, Ron, inspired by an idea of Maddie’s, brought together the leadership of UCLA and the Army, and using his rare ability to persevere in the face of enormous obstacles, he prevailed in forming a partnership that has changed the lives of service members, veterans and their families from across our nation. Operation Mend, while healing the visible and invisible wounds of war, has also engaged our own Los Angeles community in ways both profound and unexpected. Ron’s initial gift to UCLA, his ongoing financial support of the program and his continuing leadership on Operation Mend’s advisory board have been instrumental in allowing for the program’s sustainability and growth. We are so grateful for him!

Gary Ghazarian - Maddie Katz Humanitarian Award

Gary Ghazarian

The inaugural Maddie Katz Humanitarian Award will be presented to Gary Ghazarian as part of Operation Mend’s 15th Anniversary celebration. Maddie Katz was an open-hearted, loving, and incredibly philanthropic person. In addition to giving generously over the course of her life, she volunteered much of her time at her favorite charities — always with remarkable humility. She was a strong but gentle advocate for those in need, and her vision to help veterans led to the formation of Operation Mend.

Gary Ghazarian embodies so many of Maddie’s wonderful qualities. He, like Maddie, is kind and unassuming. Without being asked, Gary contributes his time, talent, and resources to advance our mission; his impact on Operation Mend is profound. Since he began volunteering with the Buddy Program in 2013, Gary has provided social support to 18 warriors. He is also a member of Operation Mend’s Board of Advisors and deeply committed to philanthropy — Maddie would be so proud.


Platinum Sponsors

  • Katz Family
  • The Thalians

Gold Sponsor

  • H-Wave

Silver Sponsors

  • Eric & Kim Belcher
  • The Otis Booth Foundation
  • Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors Foundation

Bronze Sponsors

  • Linda & Gary Ghazarian
  • Laurie and Steven Gordon
  • Ralph & Shirley Shapiro
  • UCLA Health

Star-Spangled Sponsors

  • Lee & Rachel Ault
  • Elizabeth Dole Foundation
  • Ernst & Young
  • Andrea & David Feinberg
  • Jacqui Fogel
  • Burton & Nanette Forester
  • The Connie Frank Foundation
  • Goldsmith Family Foundation
  • Christine & Jordan Kaplan
  • Netflix
  • Patty & Greg Penske | Longo Toyota- Lexus
  • Karen & Ted Philip
  • Nicole and Amir Rubin
  • UCLA Semel Institute
  • United Airlines
  • Venter Family

Family Sponsors

  • Baron & Waxberg Families
  • Joel & Francine Berger
  • Lenny & Rachel Esmond
  • Steve R. Freed
  • Jon & Nancy Glaser
  • Jerry & Merle Measer
  • Middlesworth Family
  • Oracle Cerner
  • Libby Waldman
  • Wally & Sheila Weisman

In-kind Sponsors

  • Animal Services Dog Training
  • Brixton Clothing
  • Clearlake Impact Initiative
  • The Conrad Hotel
  • DJ Michael Basic
  • Jakks Pacific
  • Hounds and Heroes
  • LAZ Parking
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Los Angeles Kings / AEG
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Malibu Beach Inn
  • Mattel Children's Foundation
  • Merois
  • MountainGate Country Club
  • Natural History Museum
  • Nerano
  • No Bones Pet Services
  • Oakley Sunglasses/Infinite Hero Foundation
  • The Pendry Hotel West Hollywood
  • The Pendry Hotel San Diego
  • Penske Motor Group
  • Revival Roots Nursery
  • Skirball Cultural Center
  • Supreme Pawfection
  • Tell Me A Story
  • Toscana
  • UCLA Athletics
  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • US Olympic & Paralympic Foundation
  • West Coast Blends Supply Company
  • Delbar Azari
  • Mr. & Mrs. Juan S. Baron
  • Glen and Elizabeth Friedman
  • Gary Ghazarian
  • Jennifer Grey
  • Joel Grey
  • Dana and Todd Katz
  • Beth Kleid
  • Lia and Murray Markiles
  • Adam Nathanson
  • Daniel & Judy Soper
  • Christian Thompson