Natalie Cole, Anne Jeffreys Step Out for UKRO Benefit Dinner

Bryan Beasley
Dean Carmen Puliafito, Barry Hoeven, Lynda Oschin, Provost Elizabeth Garrett and Dr. Vito Campese

The fundraiser for kidney research honored Barry Hoeven, Lynda Oschin and Elizabeth Garrett

Entertainment lawyer Kenneth Kleinberg held the annual University Kidney Research Organization benefit dinner Friday evening at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angles. The fundraiser honored Barry Hoeven, Lynda Oschin and Elizabeth Garrett for their contributions towards kidney research.

Kleinberg, who serves as UKRO president, founded the organization along with Dr. Vito M. Campese after suffering from renal failure. Kleinberg received a kidney transplant and wanted the public, including the nearly 25 million Americans living with chronic kidney disease, to be more aware of its importance.

“I was confident in the care I received from Dr. Campese, but I was shocked when he couldn’t tell me how I got the disease that afflicted me or how it could be prevented,” said Kleinberg. “Because of that, he and I aspired to ensure that the public's knowledge of kidney disease is enhanced.”

ABC7 Eyewitness News anchor Phillip Palmer hosted the evening where Anne Jeffreys was in attendance. Proceeds went towards establishing the USC/UKRO Kidney Research Center, which will become a premier space for finding a cure for chronic kidney disease. UKRO pledged a donation of $3.5 million towards the building.

Dr. Robert Figlin presented the outstanding achievement in business and industry award to chairman of Westport Properties Inc. and USC alum Barry Hoeven. Hoeven, who lives with stage four metastatic kidney cancer, reminded the audience how cancer has been a wake up call to remember the life lessons that people should live by every day.

“Focus on the present, not the past,” said Hoeven. “Let the little stuff slide. I can’t tell you how much things don’t matter that much anymore when you’re living with cancer. Don’t complain. Nobody really listens anyway.”

Hoeven’s words touched singer and former UKRO award recipient Natalie Cole, who also battles kidney disease and serves on the organization's board of directors.

“In a very interesting, strange way, I thank God for my issue,” said Cole. “It has opened my eyes to be more of  a human being than I was before.”

Spirit of Life recipient Lynda Oschin accepted her award in honor of her husband Samuel Oschin, who had a love for math and science. The Oschin Family Foundation has been responsible for bringing the Endeavor to Los Angeles, the Griffith Observatory’s Samuel Oschin Planetarium and establishing a cancer center in Cedars-Sinai.

"As I watch children and adults alike gaze up in sheer amazement and excitement at the Endeavor, I see my husband in their eyes," Lynda said. "They make Sam’s dreams tangible, representing everything he loved and wanted to create. Adventure, excitement, math and science, inspiration and commitment."

Ambassador of The Great American Songbook Michael Feinstein gave a special performance. USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs Elizabeth Garrett received the award for Extraordinary Achievement in Academic Leadership from USC Keck School of Medicine Dean Carmen A. Puliafito. Garrett also sits on the governing board for the USC Keck Hospitals.

“We promise you that we will continue to strengthen this partnership between UKRO and the Keck School of Medicine at USC," said Garrett.

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