Neverending storms departed just in time to let in the bright, sunny skies on March 30, the perfect backdrop for MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center Foundation’s Spring Gala 2019 at Montage Laguna Beach. The black-tie event raised approximately $360,000 (net) to benefit Cancer and Infusion Services at Saddleback Medical Center.

After a hosted cocktail hour on the main lawn overlooking the picturesque Pacific Ocean, approximately 400 guests in elegant gowns and tuxes made their way back to the main ballroom, themed as an affair along the Greek island of Santorini, with white stucco houses
accented with bright pink bougainvillea, carved into the cliffs overlooking the cerulean Mediterranean waters.

The evening program began with a welcome by Marcia Manker, MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center CEO, who thanked Bill Howard and his family for their integral gifts to help create the new Jean Howard Infusion Center, which was recently dedicated in honor of the former cancer patient.

“Thanks to Bill’s initial contribution and his penchant for fundraising within his own family and circle of friends, we have a beautiful, dedicated space for patients undergoing chemotherapy and other infusion services,” said Manker.

Another highlight of the evening was celebrating 50 years of charitable giving to the hospital. The first philanthropic gift was made in 1969, $100 from the Golden Rain Foundation, and its subsequent gift of land, was the beginning of building the hospital, which would open in 1974.

“It was donations from the community that started our hospital and it is that continued support that enables our physicians and staff to perform cutting-edge procedures with lifesaving medical equipment in a warm, healing environment,” said Saddleback Medical Center Foundation President Cecilia Belew.

The live auction featured some new items this year, including a seven-night stay in Tuscany, a week at a three-bedroom condo in Oahu, and an afternoon cruise on a restored 1926 schooner out of Dana Point Harbor. Steve’s Pies, homemade pies baked every month for a year by Foundation board member and gala chair Steve Geidt, sold twice for $6,000 each. The auction raised more than $53,000.

After the auction, Foundation Board Chair Barbara Victor, M.D., introduced a video spotlighting the countless ways philanthropy has impacted the hospital over the last five decades. The footage moved around the hospital, pointing out how much had been raised for each area and program, and including testimonials from patients who benefited from these services.

Image of MemorialCare CEO Barry Arbuckle, his wife Gina and guests

Dr. Victor continued, letting the guests know the Foundation had been asked to help support the Cancer Nurse Navigator program at the hospital. A cancer nurse navigator is a certified oncology nurse who helps newly diagnosed cancer patients “navigate” through the complex cancer treatment journey.

She explained how they help patients and their loved ones understand their diagnoses, weigh treatment options, and help coordinate care. All funds raised during the Fund-A-Need portion of the event would benefit the program. The Fund-a-Need raised more than $95,000.

“As a Foundation board member, I still have the opportunity to see the impact of donations from our supporters,” said Steve Geidt, Spring Gala Chair and former CEO who retired three years ago. “Thanks to you, Saddleback Medical Center will not only continue to provide excellent medical expertise and treatment options for our cancer patients, but will also be able to offer patients, who are often scared, a guide to help navigate through the rough waters of a cancer diagnosis.”

Thanks to the generous gala sponsors, 100 percent of the proceeds from the evening will directly benefit Cancer and Infusion Services at Saddleback Medical Center.

Spring Gala 2019 Benefactor, Platinum, Gold, and Silver Sponsors:
  • Benefactor Sponsors: Gary Damsker, Steve and Ginger Geidt
  • Platinum Sponsors: MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center Medical Staff
  • Gold Sponsors: MemorialCare Medical Group and Greater Newport Physicians, OC Surgeons, Sirius Healthcare and Cisco Systems, and Surgical Care Affiliates
  • Silver Sponsors: Belmont Village Senior Living, California Anesthesia Associates, Farmers and Merchants Bank Foundation, Keenan Healthcare, Dawn and Gary Levine, M.D., McAfee, Memorial Radiation Oncology Medical Group, Bebe Shaddock and Russell Smith, and Tiller Constructors

To view all the photos from the event, please click here.