Gala promises to ‘Light the Way’ for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Text: T T
By Stephanie Sumell


GROUP EFFORT—Centennial Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles members, from left, Tracy Kimes, Mary Grey, Allisyn Cashdan, Gigi Nelson, Bernadette Geckle, Georganne Youmans, Paula Rosenkrantz and Gemma Farah stuff invitations and prep auction items. 
Courtesy of Debbie Gengos GROUP EFFORT—Centennial Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles members, from left, Tracy Kimes, Mary Grey, Allisyn Cashdan, Gigi Nelson, Bernadette Geckle, Georganne Youmans, Paula Rosenkrantz and Gemma Farah stuff invitations and prep auction items. Courtesy of Debbie Gengos When Melanie Rosenberg brought her then 1-year-old daughter Paige into Children’s Hospital Los Angeles 14 years ago, she feared for the little girl’s life.

The toddler had a fever and was shaking uncontrollably.

“She was screaming so loudly we couldn’t even get her into an exam room,” Rosenberg recalled. “I’d gone to other doctors who said, ‘We don’t know what’s wrong with her.’”

Within minutes, a woman entered the waiting room, looked Paige up and down, and said the words no mother wants to hear: “We think your daughter has a tumor.”

Tests confirmed what the doctors suspected. Paige had a neuroblastoma, one of the deadliest types of pediatric cancers.

With treatment, Paige eventually made a full recovery.

“From the moment we walked in that door, (the staff) was kind and efficient.” Rosenberg said. “There’s not anything I wouldn’t do to help that hospital.”

Now Rosenberg and others have that chance.

At 6 p.m. Sat., Sept. 29, David Murdock, the local billionaire owner of Dole Food Company, will host Light the Way, a $200-aperson benefit for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, a nonprofit medical center.

The fundraiser, organized by the all-women fundraising group Centennial Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, will take place at Ventura Farms in Thousand Oaks.

“It’s disturbing when health problems affect adults, but it is even more tragic and heartbreaking when serious illnesses and injuries afflict innocent children,” Murdock said in an open letter on the invitation.

Emceed by actor Jason Alexander, best known for his role on the television series “Seinfeld,” the event’s festivities include a cocktail hour, silent auction, live auction, sit-down dinner and evening program.

Kimberly Dawn, one of the guild members, and a four-member group called The Company Men, will sing for the crowd.

“It will be an evening to remember,” Rosenberg said.

Bonnie McClure, the hospital’s chair of associates and affiliates, said this year the money will go toward the Associates Endowment to Advance Developmental Neuroscience.

“Events that occur in the early stages of brain development can lead to debilitating conditions later in a child’s life,” McClure said. “Autism, seizures, ADHD . . . further research is urgently needed to understand, support and treat the developing mind.”

But research is only a portion of what the hospital does. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles provides healthcare to more than 97,000 children a year.

“We really appreciate what they do for children and their families,” said Debbie Gengos, a guild member for three years. “Almost all of us know somebody who has been treated there.”

According to Aileen Hagy, the Centennial Guild’s president, the reliance on Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is far-reaching.

“(Last year) more than 4,000 children in the Conejo Valley have been treated at the hospital,” she said. “They’re neighbors, they’re friends of neighbors (and) they’re relatives.”

Among that group is Hagy’s son John, who was diagnosed with diabetes as a toddler.

Now 18, the college student visits the hospital’s oncology department every three months for blood work.

“He’s had amazing care there,” Hagy said.

Founded in 1901, the 603-bed facility serves sick kids from every income level, Hagy said.

“No child is ever turned away from Children’s Hospital,” she said. “Regardless of insurance (and financial capability) every child receives the highest level of care.”

That’s one of the reasons Centennial Guild members work together to raise money for the cause.

Formed in 2001, the group has raised nearly $1.76 million to date.

Event co-chairs Georgeanne Youmans and Gail Boskovich, both Westlake Village residents, said they hope the community will support children in need.

“These are not just nameless, faceless children,” Youmans said. “They are the most seriously ill and injured children of our community.”

Rosenberg, a member of the guild, said Paige is now a healthy 16-year-old.

“Children’s Hopsital is an amazing place,” she said.

To request an invitation, email centennialguild@aol.com, or call Boskovich at (805) 469-6931 or Youmans at (805) 630-2101.

To learn more about the guild, visit www.centennialguildchla.org.

2012-09-13 / Health & Wellness

Return to top

Loading ...

Share