Central Ohio celebrated and supported the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with the ninth annual Discover the Dream Gala at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium May 15.
About 700 people gathered to raise $607,000 at the event, bringing the gala’s fundraising total to about $3.4 million.
“This has become a premiere event in Columbus, anticipated by many,” said Lisa Khourie, the committee co-chair. She established the event with her brother, David Karam, who serves on the Professional Advisory Council for ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude.
“It is important because, here in central Ohio, we have many fine medical institutions. Spreading the news about the difference and importance of St. Jude is extremely important because it educates many that St. Jude does not compete with our fine institutions. It only enhances them by sharing research, and offers the community the opportunity to support an amazing cause,” she said.
The event honored the Hanna family for their dedicated support of St. Jude. Jack Hanna is the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and a well-known animal ambassador, thanks to his television shows including Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures and Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild. He and his wife, Suzi, have been devoted St. Jude supporters since their daughter received successful treatment for childhood cancer at the hospital.
Pat Wyatt, chief development officer for ALSAC, spoke at the gala.
In addition, guests enjoyed silent and live auctions, cocktails, entertainment and a dinner served by Cox Catering and Preston Catering.
Khourie credited the “wonderful, charitable people of central Ohio” for the event’s success. “I continue to be amazed at the generosity of people, the commitment of our committee and the strength of all the children and families of St. Jude,” she said.