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Board of Governors Honors Heroes, Raises $1.6 Million

Virtual Gala Benefits Cedars-Sinai's Board of Governors Innovation Center, a New Personalized Medicine Initiative

The Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors (BOG) Annual Gala went virtual this year, raising $1.6 million for its newest project: a personalized medicine initiative.

Hosted by BOG member Richard Weitz and his daughter, Demi, through their virtual fundraising platform, RWQuarantunes, the event honored Cedars-Sinai healthcare heroes for their response during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gala co-chairs included John Bendheim, Dana Pachulski, Rick Powell, Leslie Spivak and Richard Weitz.

Russell Goldsmith, chairman of City National Bank and a Cedars-Sinai Board of Directors member, presented nine employees from different departments representing a standard COVID-19 care team with the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Healthcare Hero Award on behalf of City National Bank. The evening also Russell Goldsmithincluded giveaways for 12 employees for staycations to the Waldorf Astoria and Viceroy L’Ermitage hotels.

“We are all so grateful to every healthcare hero who has exemplified sacrifice and endless hard work—all for the benefit of patients and our community,” Goldsmith said. “It will never be forgotten at Cedars-Sinai or by the thousands of people you’ve helped.”

As of Feb. 1, Cedars-Sinai has treated more than 2,700 COVID-19 hospitalized patients since the pandemic reached Los Angeles more than a year ago.

Healthcare Hero and staycation winner Kimmy Canapi Vasquez, RN, said the recognition was a positive end to a trying year after losing her father to COVID-19 six months ago. “I was part of the first wave,” Vasquez said. “It’s beyond words that we’ve come together as a community in this difficult time. I’m so grateful.”

Special guest appearances and performances included musicians Josh Groban, John Legend, Colin Hay, David Foster, Pia Toscano, John Hiatt, Norm Lewis, Chris Martin, Gloria Gaynor, Gloria Estefan, Ryan Tedder, Queen+Adam Lambert, producer Jimmy Jam, the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, Norm Lewis (Scandal), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Zach Braff (Scrubs) and Freddie Highmore (The Good Doctor). The evening concluded with a performance of “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang.

“Demi and I were thrilled to return to Cedars-Sinai and support our incredible heroes, and in doing so reach almost $20 million raised through RWQuarantunes for charities since the start of the pandemic,” Weitz said. “We’ve built a great community and are so grateful to all of the artists who make it all possible.”

Proceeds from the gala will support the Board of Governors Innovation Center. The $50 million initiative will enable scientists to identify the molecular cause of a particular disease such as cancer or diabetes, and use state-of-the-art technology to discover, develop and deliver personalized, lifesaving therapies for patients.

During the gala, David Sadkin, chair of the BOG, announced that $16 million has already been raised for the center.

“This is truly an incredible leap forward in health sciences that will use advanced technology to create personalized precision medicine that will truly save lives,” he said.

Sadkin also reflected on the anniversary of the pandemic and how the BOG adapted to the needs of the community.

“When I look back at the last year, two words come to mind. The first is courage, the courage of those who fought COVID-19 and those in our healthcare system who helped patients over the last 12 months providing the care they need,” Sadkin said. “The other is disruption. COVID-19 disrupted families, businesses and our lives. But disruption also can be a positive such as how it allowed us to use technology to make this the most widely attended gala in the history of the BOG.”

The Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors is an energetic community of philanthropic leaders who are helping to define the future of healthcare. Established by the Cedars-Sinai Board of Directors in 1971, the group has become the primary fundraising and leadership group at Cedars-Sinai.

The event was supported by platinum sponsors City National Bank, and Iris and Michael Smith; gold sponsor Susan and Eric Smidt; silver sponsors The Stanley and Joyce Black Foundation, Lauren Shuler Donner, Greenberg Traurig/Mark Kelson, Paul and Vera Guerin, Barbara Herman, Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation, Joel and Barbara Marcus & Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc./Alexandria Venture Investments, Alexandra and Michael Misczynski, Harriet and Steven Nichols, David & Janet Polak Foundation, Debbie and Rick Powell, Leslie and Bobby Spivak; and bronze sponsors John, Cathi and Alexandra Bendheim; Lynn and Les Bider, Chami Family Foundation, Dan Clivner, Linda and John Coleman, Linda Essakow and Stephen Gunther, Foodtrients/The Grace O Foundation, Neil Kadisha and Family, Martha and Bruce Karsh, Los Angeles Clippers, Jack Law-Warschaw, Los Angeles Rams, Harriet and Steven Nichols, Dana and Richard Pachulski, Glenn and Eleanor Padnick, Debbie and Rick Powell, Liz Gottainer and David Sadkin/Bel Air Investment Advisors, SAM Residential Group LLC, Patti and Richard Sinaiko, Leslie and Bobby Spivak, TIS Construction Services, Inc., Mary Ann Weisberg and Bryce Perry Foundation.

For more information about the BOG Innovation Center, visit cedars-sinai.org/boginnovation.