Drew Barrymore, Josh Gad, Katy Perry Support Children's Hospital Los Angeles at Once Upon a Time Gala
A total of $4 million was raised at the gala to support pediatric medical care and research.
More than 1,200 philanthropists, stars and supporters of Children's Hospital Los Angeles came out to the L.A. Live Event Deck on Saturday night to raise money and support pediatric medical care and research. The star of the night, however, was 6-year-old Caiden Moran.
Born with no cochleas, a vital part of the inner ear that converts sound vibrations into nerve impulses, Caiden was deaf. But that changed in January 2015, when Caiden underwent surgery to receive an auditory brainstem implant. The ABI works by using a microphone and transmitter attached to the head to convert sound to electrical signals. Those signals are then transmitted to a receiver implanted in the brainstem, which stimulates the nerves and bypasses the ear completely.
Dr. Mark Krieger, chief of medical staff and head of the Division of Neurosurgery at CHLA, performed Caiden's surgery and was honored at Saturday night's gala. Onstage with Caiden and his mother, Danielle, Krieger asked the audience and Caiden to join him in a game. He turned to Caiden and asked him to close his eyes, then turned to the audience. "On three," he said, "let's all give Caiden a round of applause and see if he can hear us." The applause started on two, and Caiden was smiling, eyes open and yelling, by three.
The Children's Hospital Los Angeles' Once Upon a Time Gala was created to support research such as the ABI and to honor children like Caiden and the many professionals who lend their medical care and emotional assistance to those in need. Prior to the event, Jamie Lee Curtis spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the gala and the hospital's significance.
"There is nothing that will change your life more than a child who’s ill," said Curtis. "You will do anything to relieve them of their pain and suffering. And Children’s Hospital will do it regardless of your ability to pay for it."
Curtis has been involved with Children's Hospital Los Angeles for more then 20 years. She was passionate when speaking about the importance of supporting the hospital. "Every person that walks in that building, their vow that day is to help a child in need," she said. "That’s a much higher calling than anything show-off business is going to offer you."
Inside the event, guests were treated to dinner by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and Cirque du Soleil-style performances with themes such as Peter Pan and Cinderella. Host Josh Gad entertained guests with his humor and introduced presenters, performers and award recipients.
The Courage to Care Award, which is presented to those who display exceptional dedication to humanitarian efforts and child-related causes, was awarded to the Los Angeles Kings, the Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Foundation and Drew Barrymore.
"Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a very near and dear place to me," Barrymore told reporters on the red carpet. "I’m in the hospital sitting in the beds with the kids and bringing toys in on certain days. This is the kind of work I want to do, and I never need a minute's recognition for it."
In addition to helping children at CHLA, Barrymore holds an annual Mother's Day pampering event for the mothers of the children and was named an Ambassador Against Hunger in 2007 by the United Nations World Food Programme. She is also a supporter of Safe Kids Worldwide.
Katy Perry wrapped up the evening with performances of "Roar," "Teenage Dream," "Firework," "Dark Horse" and an emotional rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
After her performance, Caiden greeted Perry onstage with a bouquet of roses. In sign language, they exchanged the words, "I love you."