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2012 gala benefits patient care

More than 425 UC Irvine Medical Center friends and associates gathered to celebrate healing at the 2012 UCI Health gala, “Healing Under the Stars,” on April 14 at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

The third annual gala — the first to be dedicated to the medical center — raised more than $700,000, with proceeds to benefit patient-care programs and technologies.

"We are fortunate to be part of a caring community that embraces our mission to discover, teach and heal,” medical center CEO Terry Belmont said. "Their response to this gala demonstrates that more and more people are realizing UC Irvine Medical Center offers a level of care that’s only attainable at a world-class academic medical center."

The gala also honored UCI Health's first "Hero of Healing," former UC Irvine Medical Center patient Jon Wilhite, and the inaugural recipients of our CEO Leadership Award, hospital community campaign co-chairs Tom and Elizabeth Tierney.

UCI Health hosted its first gala in 2010 under the leadership of Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, dean of UC Irvine's School of Medicine. More than 500 people attended the 2011 gala, which celebrated the extraordinary contributions its faculty members have made in the fields of medical research, education and clinical practice.

The 2012 "Healing Under the Stars" gala honored individuals and programs that illustrate why UC Irvine Medical Center, Orange County's only university hospital, has been ranked among the nation's top 50 hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 11 consecutive years.

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Event honorees

Wilhite was honored as the first "Hero of Healing" for demonstrating a strength of spirit and determination to recover that have made him a role model to others. He was rushed to Orange County’s only Level I trauma center with multiple life-threatening injuries after a car crash in April 2009 that killed three friends, including Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart.

Today Wilhite works at a Southern California logistics company and speaks to local school groups about the dangers of drinking and driving—recalling how a drunk driver at the wheel of a second vehicle caused the crash.

Throughout his journey to health, Wilhite has exemplified heroism and the strength of the human spirit. His courageous story is just one of many that illustrates how the advanced treatment and compassionate care delivered at UC Irvine Medical Center transforms lives.

Learn about Wilhite's against the odds recovery in this video:

The Tierneys were honored with the first CEO Leadership Award for co-chairing a record-setting fundraising campaign to build UC Irvine Douglas Hospital. They pursued every avenue to reach the goal, from hosting events to making their own substantial lead gift, eventually securing $50 million in philanthropic support for the 482,000-square-foot facility and setting a university fundraising record.

Tierney and his wife are renowned across UC Irvine for their passionate support of the university and their ongoing advocacy for healthcare at UC Irvine. Elizabeth Tierney served as a UC Irvine Foundation trustee for 14 years. Thomas Tierney, who is president of Vita-Tech International Inc., has been a trustee since 1986 and chaired the foundation from 1998 to 2001. The couple also provided the lead gift for the UC Irvine chancellor’s private residence, the Tierney University House, endowed the campus’s first lifetime chair in peace studies and funded a host of scholarships. 

UC Irvine alumni and benefactors Dr. David Tsoong and his wife, Dr. Betty Tu, served as honorary co-chairs of this year’s event alongside Richard and Susan Bridgford, who took center stage as the gala’s masters of ceremonies. Richard Bridgford, a partner at the law firm Bridgford & Gleason, and Tsoong, chairman and president of Pinnacle Resources International Inc., are also UC Irvine Foundation trustees.

Funds raised from the gala and live auction will benefit patients through UC Irvine clinical programs and technologies that deliver world-class medical care to the people of Orange County and beyond.

The 2012 gala committee also included:

  • Kathy Belmont
  • Salma A. Chehabi
  • Kelly and James Mazzo
  • Douglas J. McCrea
  • Jennifer Simpson, MD
  • Thomas T. Tierney

Guests closed the evening dancing to the music of JT & California Dreamin’ — the band formed by UC Irvine philanthropist and drummer John Tu, co-founder of Kingston Technology. The event was underwritten by Abbott Medical Optics Inc., David Tsoong and Betty Tu, Kingston Technology and John Tu.

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