Saint John’s Health honors

November 8, 2016


The Irene Dunne Guild co-hosted the 2016 Caritas Gala in partnership with the Saint John’s Health Center Foundation board of trustees tonight (Saturday, Oct. 22) at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills. The black-tie event honored Jennifer Beals with the Caritas Award; Allyson Felix with the inaugural Hope & Inspiration Award; and Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan, on behalf of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, with the Spirit of Saint John’s Award. The Caritas Gala honors individuals who exemplify dedication and commitment to the community and embody the philosophy and mission of Saint John’s.

The evening featured a special performance by singer/songwriter and actress Alisan Porter, recent winner of NBC’s The Voice, Season 10.

Donna L. Schweers, chair of Saint John’s Health Center Foundation board of trustees, welcomed the more than 400   guests, noting that next year marks the 75th anniversary of Saint John’s, “…a community of care that includes a remarkable and remarkably dedicated group of physicians delivering world-class clinical care.” She went on to acknowledge the evening’s dinner chairs (Debra and Norris J. Bishton Jr., The Martha and David L. Ho Family, Shelby Notkin, Dominic J. Ornato and the Schweers-Geiser Family) before introducing gala co-chairs Judy Beck and Kathy Yawitz. Beck recognized guild president, Brenda McDonald and stated the guild would be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017. Yawitz acknowledged that since its inception, the guild has raised more than $13 million, resulting in a host of new equipment and programs that benefit Saint Johns’ patients throughout the hospital’s many departments.

Marcel Loh, chief executive of Providence Saint John’s Health Center and John Wayne Cancer Center, shared exciting  Health Center updates and accolades including the recent U.S. News and World Report top ranking for knee and hip replacements and treatment of congestive heart failure. He also acknowledged honoree Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan as “the embodiment of the community support that created and sustains Saint John’s legacy of excellence.”

Robert O. Klein, president and CEO of Saint John’s Health Center Foundation, presented the Spirit of Saint John’s Award to the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation. Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan, chair of the Leavey Foundation, daughter of its founders and a Saint John’s Health Center Foundation trustee accepted the award. “Kathleen and the Leavey Foundation,” said Klein “have for many, many years been ‘stand by your side’ kind of friends to us at Saint John’s, the ones who are always there in times of real need, and not just with financial support, but also encouragement, energy and vision.”

Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan serves as a trustee of the University of Southern California as well as several community and charitable boards. Thomas Leavey co-founded Farmers Insurance in 1928 based on the premise that rural drivers should pay less for insurance because they encountered less risk than their urban-dwelling counterparts. After the insurance company became one of the most successful in the nation, Leavey and his wife Dorothy E. Risley Leavey started the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation in 1952 to share their good fortune with medical, Catholic and educational community institutions they supported.

Olympic Gold medalist Joanna Hayes presented the 2016 Hope & Inspiration Award to six-time Olympic champion, Allyson Felix, noting that “it is an honor to present the award to my friend and my inspiration.”

Olympian Felix is now the most decorated female track and field Olympian in history. Felix grew up in Los Angeles. Her father, Paul, an ordained minister, was an excellent sprinter as a teen. She inherited her long legs from her school teacher mother, Marlean. Felix attended Los Angeles Baptist High School in North Hills and accomplished impressive feats over her high school career. She broke Marion Jones’ high-school 200-meter record in April, 2003. Weeks later, she competed in the Banamex Grand Prix in Mexico City and ran a blazing 22.11 200-meter race, a new world record in the under-20 category. Felix won three gold medals in the 2012 Olympic Games and followed that up in 2016 with two more gold medals and a silver medal.

Sheryl Ross, MD, presented the Caritas Award to “my patient and dear friend, Jennifer Beals,” describing the internationally renowned actress as “a fierce activist for social change and equality for the underdog. She sees the world as it is, but believes we have the power to make it better.”

As part of the presentation to Beals, John M. Robertson, MD, announced that the actress and activist has partnered with clothing designers and a number of Saint John’s physicians including Dr. Ross, Nicole Weinberg, MD, and himself to help research and develop a new type of bra that can be used in the everyday stress testing of women evaluated for cardiovascular disease and for women recovering from open heart surgery.

Jennifer Beals has been featured in more than 50 films and among some of the highest rated television series to date. Currently she stars in NBC’s medical drama The Night Shift, and can next be seen as the female lead in Taken, NBC’s straight-to-series adaptation of the hit movie franchise. She earned a Golden Globe nomination and won an NAACP Image Award for Best Actress for her role in the iconic film Flashdance, a Canadian Screen Award nomination for her role in A Wife’s Nightmare and a Golden Satellite Award for her role in Twilight of the Golds. Beals recently starred in Manhattan Night, and her latest film project, Before I Fall, will be released theatrically in April 2017. She will executive produce the upcoming dance drama The Edge, recently sold to FOX, teaming up with Kenny Ortega and James Larosa. Beals starred in TNT’s Proof, The Chicago Code and the hit Showtime series The L Word, which aired for six seasons and garnered her two NAACP Image Awards and a Satellite Award nomination. Beals received the Maverick Tribute Award at the Cinequest San Jose Film Festival in 1999. She was presented with the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality Award in 2012 for her support in the LGBT community.

Net proceeds from the gala benefit vital programs and services at the Health Center. Since 1987, the guild has raised more than $13 million and has supported Saint John’s through a wide variety of innovative philanthropic, educational and volunteer programs and services. The guild was named for the late actress Irene Dunne, considered the “First Lady” of Saint John’s.

Past Caritas Gala honorees include: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Martin Sheen, Vin Scully, Robert Wagner, Angela Lansbury, Pierce Brosnan, Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards, Chris O’Donnell, Tonian Hohberg, Raylene and Bruce Meyer, Merle and Peter Mullin and Jimmy Stewart. 

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