LOS ANGELES RED STAR BALL RAISES RECORD $6M+ FOR MDA’S NEW NATIONAL BLOOD CENTER AND AMBULANCES
Jay Leno hosts star-studded affair with performances by Paul Anka, Scott Hoying and appearances by Toni Braxton, J.R. Martinez, Pat Boone, Tracey Bregman, others; David Wiener, Dr. Bill Dorfman, Gina Edwards honored;900 guests celebrate MDA’s wartime medics; surprise reunions drive record donations
Los Angeles (October 23, 2014) — On the heels of Operation Protective Edge, American Friends of Magen David Adom’s Los Angeles Red Star Ball celebrated MDA’s wartime medics at a star-studded gala on Thursday at the Beverly Hilton. The event raised more than $6 million, a record for an event benefitting MDA, which will be used to help build MDA’s new national blood center, sponsor life-support ambulances, and purchase essential medical supplies.
The highly anticipated event was hosted by Jay Leno, whose comedic timing and improvisational quips were matched only by his generosity. By night’s end, he pledged $10,000 toward the cause. “We need to get more non-Jews to donate!” he said.
Guests were treated to a rousing musical performance by legendary singer-songwriter Paul Anka, while the Star Spangled Banner was sung by Pentatonix’s Scott Hoying, and Israel’s national anthem — Hatikva — was performed by Pastor Robert Stearns. Honorees included David Wiener (Lifetime Achievement Award), Dr. Bill Dorfman (Humanitarian of the Year Award), and Gina Edwards (Next Generation Award).
But the emotional highlight of the night — in fact, the engine that drove the record donations — was the moving reunion between two Israelis who were nearly killed in rocket attacks during Operation Protective Edge, and the MDA paramedics who saved their lives. The reunions, kept as surprises for the survivors, happened live on-stage following the premiere of a short film recounting their harrowing stories.
Yarin Levy, 16, of Ashkelon, was reunited with MDA’s Einav Asulin and Neomi Zvi (who, in 1972, became Israel’s first fulltime female paramedic). Jehan Berman, 31, of Nahal Oz, was reunited with MDA’s Dr. Oren Wacht, a volunteer paramedic who teaches emergency medicine at Ben-Gurion University.
“The reunions between the Israeli civilians and their MDA lifesavers was one of the purest displays of human emotion and joy I have ever seen,” said AFMDA Western Region Chairman Paul Guerin, who chaired the event with his wife, Vera, and Benny and Adele Alagem. “We owe it to MDA’s heroes to show Americans what MDA does in Israel every single day. And supporting these incredible medics and building them a new MDA national blood center is the least we can do.”
The $6 million raised on Thursday eclipses the record set by last year’s AFMDA Los Angeles Gala, which generated $4 million.
“We’ve been so fortunate to count on the LA community’s support of MDA and its medics who are on the front lines during times of war and peace,” said AFMDA Western Region President Dina Leeds, who was honored at last year’s gala, along with her husband Fred Leeds. “After all, Israel relies on two critical agencies to save lives: the IDF and Magen David Adom. And now that Angelinos have met some of these MDA heroes in person, we hope that support will only grow.”
Industry titans in finance, business, and entertainment lent support to the evening, including Toni Braxton, Pat Boone, J.R. Martinez, Amy Paffrath, and Dr. Jim Sears. Israel’s Consul General to Los Angeles, David Siegel, opened the event. California Congressman Brad Sherman presented MDA Director-General Eli Bin with an award and an official American flag that once flew atop the U.S. Capitol. Both items will be located in the new blood center once it’s built.
An after-party sponsored by AFMDA’s Heartbeat NextGen community was hosted by J.R. Martinez at the Beverly Hilton and raised several more thousand dollars.
MDA is Israel’s national emergency-response, ambulance, and blood-services organization. However, it’s not a government agency and relies on charitable donations for funding. Israel’s current blood center, built in the 1980s, no longer accommodates the nation’s growing population and is vulnerable to terror and rocket attacks, as well as natural disasters like earthquakes. The Los
Angeles Red Star Ball, along with September’s Detroit annual gala, which raised more than $1 million, kicks off a promising event season for AFMDA in the U.S. The organization’s next major events are in New York (December 2), Aventura, Fla., (December 14), Palm Beach, Fla. (February 22, 2015), and San Francisco (March 1, 2015).
“The Los Angeles Red Star Ball is not only galvanizing the community in southern California, it’s also part of a broader, national effort to build a new MDA national blood center,” said AFMDA Chief Executive Officer Arnold Gerson. “We still need a lot of help to reach our goal of $100 million, and we hope that support will continue coming from all over the country. Ultimately, we must succeed if MDA is to continue its lifesaving work.”
ABOUT: Magen David Adom (MDA) is Israel’s national emergency medical response organization, providing skilled disaster-relief, ambulance, and blood services, to Israel’s 8 million people. MDA is the only organization mandated by the Israeli government to serve in this role, but its operations are not funded by the government. Instead, MDA relies on funding from donors around the world.American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) is the largest supporter of MDA worldwide.For more information please visit www.afmda.org.