More than 1,200 guests “followed the yellow brick road” to one of the most amazing galas of the New Year. There’s No Place Like Jackson, the biggest fundraiser for the Jackson Memorial Foundation (JMF), was held for the first time in its illustrious 17-year history on the grounds of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center campus.
The highlight of the evening was when Alan Dimond, chairman of JMF announced the plans for a transformed Jackson Heath System a renovation that will make Jackson a world-class hospital. There will be a new emergency room, a new patient tower and a completely new Holtz Children’s Hospital, which will be the cornerstone of the project. A model of the new hospital was shown for the first time at The Gala.
Why this theme? Says Rolando Rodriguez, President and CEO of JMF: “When it comes to giving care, ‘There’s no place like Jackson,’ and that’s why this year’s Jackson Memorial Foundation Gala plays on the theme of the Wizard of Oz. While the glamour and glitz of The Gala, are mesmerizing to all who attend, perhaps the most remarkable achievement is the funding it raises on behalf of Jackson Health System—we are proud to announce that we raised over four million dollars tonight. In fact we sold an unprecedented forty-two $25,000 Grand Benefactor tables for the Gala and are honoring 65 new Golden Angels tonight.”
Another highlight was having Andria Ares Holtz, a major contributor to Jackson and daughter-in-law of Fana Holtz, as the auctioneer of the live auction. And, this year, the live auction has an exciting twist. Instead of bidding on items, guests were asked to donate $1,000. This gave them a chance to win a fabulous Harry Winston diamond watch in a special drawing at the end of the auction-- $200,000 in pledges were raised and the winner of the watch was the very gorgeous Lydia Touzet. Andria had the know-how and charm to raise tons of money for Jackson at this unique auction. Perhaps a new career for this charismatic woman?
A poignant video showed how Jackson saved the lives of three people, who with their expert medical help are now enjoying a wonderful quality of life. There was not a dry eye in the room at the end of the presentation. And, the most moving and inspiration part was that all three patients attended the gala.
Fana Holtz, Sherie Swerdlow and Marisa Cisneros Rizzon, icons in the community, were co-chairmen of the Jackson Memorial Foundation Golden Angels Gala 2008; Serena and Leon Simkins were Humanitarian Chairmen; Linda Huffman Kearns and James Ferraro were Honorary Chairmen; and Lennar Foundation was the Corporate Sponsor.
Barton G, a master at designing unbelievable ambiances for parties, out did himself with the decor he created for the Wizard of Oz theme and Broadway-style production numbers from The Wizard of Oz, Wicked and The Wiz. If Dorothy had seen it, she would have been blown away—again! Sensational hardly describes what he accomplished. It was a real “WOW” moment when guest entered the tents for both the cocktail reception and the dinner dance, silent and live auction.
After the presentations and productions, the party was far from over. Guests danced the night away to the wonderful music of The Steve Chase Orchestra. Unlike, Dorothy, none of the guests who attended “There’s no place like Jackson”, wanted to leave the City of Oz and return to Kansas.