The Crowd: Cuban-themed gala nets $1.1M for cancer

October 29, 2010|By B.W. Cook
  • BENEFACTORS: Event chairwoman Renetta Caya, national spokesperson Eve La Rue, presenting sponsor George O'Connell and Lil Spitzer, executive director of Beckstrand.
BENEFACTORS: Event chairwoman Renetta Caya, national… (hand in, Daily Pilot )

It was arguably the most personal charitable event on the Orange Coast so far this season.

The Diamond and Pearl Ball benefiting the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation was an evening of heartfelt anecdotes of survival infused with life-affirming endorsements of faith and humanity. Person after person, video after video, in intimate detail, told the incredible struggles of people from all walks of life fighting the insidious disease. By the end of the Saturday night gala held at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort, the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation raised a remarkable $1.1 million.

For those unfamiliar with the goals of Beckstrand, it has an important and unusual focus. It is not about raising money to fund cancer research, rather it is about raising money to support people who can not afford the basic necessities of life when diagnosed with cancer. Think about it.

If you were given the news that you were facing a battle with cancer, would you still be able to work full-time? Would you be able to pay your mortgage or rent? Would you be able to provide for your family? Would your savings go far enough to pay your medical bills not covered by insurance and cover the cost of living during treatment?


For most Americans the answer to all of these questions is no. That is where Beckstrand steps in, creating a personal one-on-one relationship with people dealing with cancer, helping them to survive the extremely challenging financial burden the disease places on individuals from every corner of society, except perhaps the extremely wealthy.

And this is why the 2010 annual Beckstrand gala was such a personal event. Stories of survival came from every corner of the ballroom at the Balboa Bay Club, with special note of the heartfelt words coming from honored guest of the night Rich Saul, National Football League Hall of Famer.

Saul, attending the gala with his wife, Eileen, is a cancer survivor, who shared with the audience his personal struggle about a time that derailed his life and the lives of his wife and children. Saul was among the fortunate ones, able to survive the financial turmoil. With the medical care Saul received from Dr. Neil Barth at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, as well as other medical professionals involved in his care, he was able to beat cancer and put his life back together.

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