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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Circle of Heroes luncheon raises over $100,000

From Left: Gabriela Souto, Gigi Arrieta, Ana Oliveira, Carolina Chinchilla,
Susy Dunand-Silva, Nerea Alvarez and Mariana Martinez.
More than 275 people gathered at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for the Seventh Annual Circle of Heroes Luncheon to recruit new members and celebrate the success of the International Kids Fund (IKF), which has changed the lives of more than 550 critically ill children and their families around the world. They raised over $100,000.

“We treat children who have no recourse for treatment in their country…and make their lives better,” said Mariana Martinez, IKF board chairman.

Some current and former patients of Holtz Children’s Hospital at the UM/Jackson Medical Center were also guests at the luncheon. “I am grateful for my heart and thank you for being my heroes,” Sophia Caceres, 13, of Colombia, told the audience. A dancer and painter, Sophia received a heart transplant when she was 11 months old.

Carlos A. Migoya, President/CEO of Jackson Health System, shared the story of how Jackson Memorial Hospital saved his son, who was born prematurely in 1978 and weighed only one pound. He thanked the hospital for opening it doors to his family and IKF for helping children who need medical care.

The luncheon was dedicated to the late Dr. Shulamit Katzman, a philanthropist and clinical attending physician at Holtz Children’s Hospital who died last August. Her friend, Eileen Youtie, accepted a plaque on behalf of the Katzman family.

Although Katzman was very ill, Youtie said she never stopped working for children in need. Her last mission: She reached out to IKF to get a prosthetic leg for one of her former patients.

This year, the luncheon committee consisted of Honorary Chairman Dra. Maribel Santa Cruz, Co-chairmen Nerea Alvarez and Gigi Arrieta, and members Carolina Chinchilla, Susy Dunand-Silva, Mariana Martinez, Ana Oliveira and Gabriela Souto.

Niurka Del Valle, IKF director, said proceeds from the luncheon will benefit the IKF Emergency Fund, which allows for immediate medical assistance rather than having to first raise money for a child’s care.

To join the Circle of Heroes, donors contribute $100 monthly or $1,200 yearly for five years. They enjoy invitations to attend private functions and receptions, guided tours of Holtz Children’s Hospital, special attention and privileges as a patient at Jackson Memorial Hospital and physician referrals at the UM/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

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