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Almost 500 Memphis-area residents gathered at the Memphis Cook Convention Center May 1 to celebrate the 35th annual Marguerite Piazza St. Jude Gala.
The event was a tribute to Piazza’s career in show business and to her long-standing commitment to St. Jude. Piazza, a noted opera singer also known for her appearances on NBC’s Your Show of Shows, was asked by St. Jude founder Danny Thomas in the 1970s to help raise funds for the hospital. Since then, the event has become one of Memphis’ oldest charity galas and is one of St. Jude’s longest-running galas. WMC-TV Channel 5 news anchor Joe Birch was master of ceremonies of the gala, which featured dinner, silent and live auctions and a musical accolade to Piazza’s life. Guests also danced to the music of the Bob Westbrook Band.
A highlight of the evening was Piazza’s presentation of the Healing Rose Humanitarian Award. This year, the award was given to Dr. Audrey Elizabeth Evans, founder of the Ronald McDonald House concept, and to Meredith and Tom Tweel and Bobbi and Don Rodgers, founders of the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis, which opened in 1991 to exclusively serve the patients and families of St. Jude.