Gala Raises More Than $160k to Improve Children’s Health

UA Steele Children’s Research Center and Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center pediatric research and clinical programs benefit from annual event.

The 5th annual “I Think I Can” gala, benefitting the UA Steele Children’s Research Center and Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center, raised more than $160,000 for pediatric clinical and research programs.

Approximately 400 people attended the whimsical, lively, fun-filled and entertaining event that featured the theme, “I Think I Can” from the children’s classic book, “The Little Engine That Could.”

The event took place Oct. 16 at The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa. It was hosted by former UA Wildcat and San Antonio Spurs basketball player Sean Elliott and his wife, Claudia. The UA Jazz Trio and Tucson Circus Arts provided entertainment.

“I’m deeply grateful to the members of the Steele Center advisory board who worked countless hours to make this event a success,” said Fayez K. Ghishan, MD, director of the UA Steele Center and physician-in-chief for Diamond Children’s. “I’m also thankful to the University of Arizona and Banner for their support and commitment, because it is by working together that we can positively impact children’s health through research and clinical care.”

Proceeds from the event will support pediatric autoimmune disease research and community health outreach.

Participants were inspired by a music video created by Andrew Gentry, featuring patients, doctors, researchers and staff.

Patients Sarah Koenig and Bryce Taylor touched the audience by sharing their experiences struggling with cancer.

A surprise tribute video was shown to honor Dr. Ghishan, for his 20-year anniversary at the UA. It featured friends, donors, patients and colleagues from throughout his career.

Sean and Claudia Elliott, Dr. Ghishan, UA President Ann Weaver Hart and Kathy Bollinger, executive vice president of Banner University Medicine, delivered heartfelt speeches that emphasized the continuing need for community support in the areas of pediatric research and clinical care.

“‘The ‘Little Engine That Could’ theme really hit home as I viewed the music video of children bravely fighting for their lives,” said event co-chair Louise Thomas. “Their perseverance and optimism brought me to tears and confirmed the need to raise funds that will lead to their recovery. I sincerely appreciate all who supported and attended this event.”

“Although it was a fun evening, I hope our guests and supporters know how important it is to keep research flowing at the Steele Center and quality care for children at Diamond Children’s,” said event co-chair Peggy Rowley. “Thank you to everyone involved.”

The music video can be viewed here:

Photos from the event can be viewed here: