Terrific friends, top-notch entertainment, and tremendous generosity scored a trifecta at the 2013 Sanford-Burnham “On the Track to Discovery” gala. Held in the heart of horse country at the Del Mar Country Club, the elegant gathering delivered a big payout, raising $2.1 million for Institute research support.
Honorary gala chairs Roberta Burnham, Pauline Foster, and Madeleine Pickens orchestrated a magical evening that showcased the merriment, high energy, and inspirational spirit of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. Guests began the evening posing for pictures in the “winner’s circle” (complete with live jockey and replica racehorse), and they ended up dancing to dynamic tunes from the Xceptional Music Company.
The emotional highlight of the evening was a celebration of the lives of two beloved Sanford-Burnham friends, Lillian Fishman and Duane Roth. A tribute to Institute co-founders William and Lillian Fishman was delivered by honorary trustee Malin Burnham. “Against all odds, the Fishmans launched a magnificent institute that is today a world leader in high-yield biomedical research,” said Burnham. “They came here and they made magic.”
Roth’s leadership as the Institute’s Board vice chairman was honored in a video message from Board chairman Greg Lucier, chairman and CEO of Life Technologies, the gala’s principal sponsor. “Duane truly loved this Institute, and he was exhilarated by its potential,” said Lucier. “He and I had a common belief that Sanford-Burnham is the right organization with the right leadership and the right benefactors to completely redefine how research gets done in the 21st century.”
President and interim CEO Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., went to the podium to envisage how the Institute’s 10-year strategic vision will usher in a new era of distinction. “We are very confident that our 10-year plan will succeed because of the very important legacy that the Fishmans and Duane Roth left for us, and that is our culture of collaboration,” Vuori told the audience. “All of you here tonight, our supporters, are a key part of that culture. We appreciate absolutely everything you do for us.”
Then it was time for the “Fund-A-Need” portion of the evening when guests raise their bidder paddles to pledge specified amounts for unrestricted Institute support. As Vuori reminded the guests, “Unrestricted philanthropy is extremely important because it provides a strong vote of confidence in our scientists. It says to them, “We value your talent. We respect your vision. Now take the ball and run with it.”
Spurred on by Vuori’s words, bidders raced down the “Fund-A-Need” homestretch: With a lead pledge of $1 million by honorary trustee T. Denny Sanford, the assembled supporters committed to a 2013 Gala total of $2.1 million.