Children’s Hospital Los Angeles ‘Once Upon a Time Gala’ Raises $4 Million to Support Pediatric Medical Care and Research

Drew Barrymore, The Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Foundation and The Los Angeles Kings Hockey Team Honored for Their ‘Courage to Care’

LOS ANGELES--()--In recognition for their compassion and dedicated support of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), actress Drew Barrymore, The Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Foundation and The Los Angeles Kings hockey team each received the Courage to Care award at the ‘Once Upon a Time Gala’ on Saturday, October 15, 2016. More than 1,200 prominent philanthropists, local dignitaries and supporters gathered at The Event Deck at L.A. LIVE. $4 million in unrestricted funds was raised, which will support the hospital to fill its most critical needs including patient care, medical research and families in need.

“Tonight we celebrate the hope and healthier futures that Children’s Hospital Los Angeles creates and provides to children across Southern California and far beyond,” Children’s Hospital Los Angeles president and CEO Paul S. Viviano told the audience.

Josh Gad, Tony nominee and Grammy Award winner, hosted the event, which celebrated the ongoing support from the evening’s honorees.

Actress Drew Barrymore’s annual Mother’s Day pampering events, in conjunction with her company Flower Beauty, have had a lasting positive impact on CHLA’s patient families. Barrymore’s special guests for the evening were patient Madison Elizondo and her mother Gina Elizondo, whom she met at CHLA several years ago.

Barrymore, a mother of two young daughters whom she is trying to parent by example, said that her work at CHLA is meaningful because it has touched her on a personal level. “Personal means everything,” said Barrymore. “Actions speak louder than words. This award – I’m not worthy. I just need to keep going and try harder so that I can prove to my daughters that this is a great way of life and the one I want for them.”

Luc Robitaille, Los Angeles Kings president and NHL Hall of Fame member, accepted the award on behalf of the hockey team, which is celebrating its club’s 50th anniversary this season. “Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is and always will be a place that we will continue to support and partner with, and it is where we go to be reminded about all of the important things in life. We love winning Stanley Cups, but we know happy healthy kids are what really matter.”

The Bill and Audrey L. Wilder Foundation continues the legacy of legendary film director Billy Wilder and his wife, actress Audrey Wilder. The couple was committed to children’s causes throughout their 53-year marriage.

“We know that if Billy and Audrey were up here now they would be overwhelmed by your kindness. They are looking down from heaven and smiling as their hearts are full of pride for being able to help so many children at such a fine institution. May their generosity continue forever,” said Jerry Moss, honoree and trustee for the Wilder Foundation and CHLA.

The ‘Once Upon a Time’ storybook themed celebration kicked off with dramatic Cirque-style performances, bringing to life some of the most famous children’s stories through acrobats and aerialists. After dinner, which was prepared by Wolfgang Puck, attendees learned of one of the hospital’s breakthrough medical procedures.

At birth, Caiden Moran was declared deaf as he had no cochleas, the inner part of the ear that converts sounds to nerve impulses and sends them to the brain. His mother, Danielle, learned of a possible solution called an auditory brainstem implant (ABI), which consists of a microphone and transmitter surgically implanted on the head. In January 2015, a team of surgeons including Mark D. Krieger, chief of medical staff and head of the Division of Neurosurgery at CHLA, performed the ABI procedure on Caiden. The microphone can convert sounds from the outside world into electrical signals to an internal receiver comprised of electrodes implanted on the brainstem that bypass the inner ear and directly stimulate the brain’s auditory neurons. Caiden, who lives in Hawaii with his family, is part of a clinical trial and the first ABI study in the U.S. supported by both the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health – of which Dr. Krieger was co-investigator for CHLA.

“Even though the Morans were in Hawaii, they heard about our own Los Angeles Auditory Brainstem Implant Team. I had been working with this incredible multidisciplinary team for almost 10 years. We saw a real opportunity to help Caiden hear through our revolutionary study,” said Krieger, the Billy and Audrey Wilder Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery at CHLA.

Caiden and his mother, Danielle, joined Krieger on stage to an overwhelmingly warm response. “He’s doing amazingly – we take his progress day by day. Since the surgery, he’s already hearing and learning to say quite a lot,” Danielle said, noting that Caiden’s father Tommy, a U.S. Naval fire tech, was unable to attend the gala as he is working on a nuclear submarine. “Tommy and I initially wanted Caiden to be able to hear so that if something dangerous were happening around him, he would understand and be able to get out of harm’s way, because that’s what all parents want for their kids, at minimum, right? When we heard about this study we knew this would be the best possibility for him. We knew it wouldn’t be overnight but his progress is definitely picking up. This wouldn’t be possible without you and the amazing ABI team.”

Katy Perry concluded the evening with a four-song set that included her hits Roar, Teenage Dream, Dark Horse and Firework, as well as an emotional rendering of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which was inspired by her visit to the CHLA Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit last December. Following her performance, young Caiden Moran presented her with a bouquet of flowers. Perry thanked Caiden by telling him in sign language, “I love you.”

Attendees included presenters Jessica Capshaw and Eric Stonestreet. They were joined by Jamie Lee Curtis, Katharine McPhee, Colin Egglesfield, Tina Knowles, Carlos Gomez, Mark and Julie Steines, Jen Widerstrom, Holly Robinson Peete, Alex Meneses Simpson, Rebecca Soni, Luc Robitaille and members of the 1967 and 2016-2017 Los Angeles Kings including Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty.

The Los Angeles Kings were the gala’s title sponsor. Premier gala sponsors were Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Costco Wholesale, Delta Air Lines, The Goldwin Foundation, and Kristin and Jeffrey Worthe. Eleven-year-old terminal cancer patient Dustin Meraz, whose legacy was to encourage others to have the courage to care for children in need, inspired the biennial event.

For more information about the evening’s honorees, CLICK HERE.

Red carpet arrivals, Interviews, footage and event photos are available for download here:

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s hospital in California and among the top 10 in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. Children’s Hospital is also one of America's premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Monica Rizzo
Office: 323-361-5745


Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Monica Rizzo
Office: 323-361-5745