On June 6, 2011, 18 preschoolers from the Mann Family Early Childhood Center presented a donation to UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital It was made in honor of classmate Chloe Stevelman’s baby brother Matthew, who underwent a successful “arterial switch” heart surgery at 10 days old. Dr. Brian Reemtsen, UCLA ’s chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, reattached two main arteries and coronary arteries into their correct positions in the baby’s strawberrysized heart, and Matthew is growing and developing normally. The 4-year-old students had been learning about mitzvot (good deeds) and decided they would help sick children by collecting money from their piggy banks and family members. The funds were used to buy toys and games for hospitalized girls and boys.
Thanks to the generosity and goodwill of Christina and Willie Geist, Operation Mend was the focus of an event held June 8, 2011, at NBC Studios in New York. Operation Mend is UCLA ’s firstof-its-kind collaboration with the military to treat U.S. troops severely wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan. It raised significant funds and resulted in media exposure, including appearances on MSN BC’s Morning Joe and Jansing & Co. by Dr. Timothy Miller, chief surgeon for Operation Mend. After reading about Operation Mend in People magazine, Christina Geist called UCLA to offer assistance. When she mentioned that her husband was host of MSN BC’s Way Too Early with Willie Geist and cohost of Morning Joe, the event was born.
In June 2011, a Veterans on Wall Street (VOWS) event was held on the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum in New York City, and Operation Mend was one of several programs recognized. VO WS is dedicated to honoring former military personnel by facilitating career and business opportunities through founding member banks and financial firms. Emcee Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News introduced the patients in the audience and a film about the program.
On November 9, 2011, in New York City, Operation Mend patient Marine Cpl. Aaron Mankin was awarded the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America 2011 IAVA Veterans Leadership Award, which is granted each year to an extraordinary veteran who has demonstrated immense courage and leadership. Philanthropist and co-founder of Operation Mend Ronald A. Katz received several awards and honors including the 2011 Spirit of Hope Award. It is presented for outstanding service to the U.S. and is awarded to distinguished Americans whose patriotism and service reflect that of Bob Hope. Mr. Katz served as grand marshall of the New York Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2011.
UCLA Health System hosted a series of special events in September 2011 to unveil the new Santa Monica campus, which will officially open in early 2012. A formal dedication ceremony was followed by such activities as a physician breakfast, a staff open house, and a community celebration in front of the scenic Harman Garden Plaza facing Wilshire Boulevard.
The UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases held a fundraising event at Mrs. Paula Kent Meehan’s home on September 18, 2011. Mrs. Candy Spelling and Mrs. Barbara Davis served as co-hosts. Virtuoso violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn performed, playing the legendary 1720 “Red Mendelssohn” Stradivarius.
The Visionary Ball 2011 was held on Thursday, October 6, 2011, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The event, benefiting UCLA Neurosurgery, honored philanthropist Sydney Kimmel, founder of the Jones Group, with the Visionary Award; director/choreographer Doriana Sanchez with the Courage Award; and Louis J. Ignarro, Ph.D., professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA , with the Medical Visionary Award. Look for more details on the gala in the next issue.
Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA celebrated its 12th Annual Mattel Party on the Pier on October 16, 2011, at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. The 1,400 guests enjoyed a full day of amusement-park rides, a silent auction featuring one-of-a-kind experiences and collectors’ memorabilia, arts and crafts, great food and carnival games stocked with prizes donated by Mattel and run by celebrities from children’s TV shows. Mattel’s Hot Wheels Cycling Team, an event sponsor, held the Elliot Handler Memorial Ride to benefit pediatric healthcare initiatives at UCLA .