Soiree celebrants sipped blue champagne at $100 per flute, to discover whether a sunken sapphire sparkled at the bottom. The cost purchased the glass of champagne plus a raffle ticket for the post-dinner sapphire drawing.
Mountain View pathologist and El Camino-affiliated Dr. John Collin noticed guests sipping the blue-liquid bubbly, but balked at the bucks – he wanted his wife’s approval.
But Edith was busy, so Collin made the fortuitous decision to throw caution – and $200 – to the wind to Raquel, who pressed two filled glasses in his hand and asked him to select two ticket numbers.
“I said, ‘Raquel, pick me a winner,’” Collin said.
One of the tickets she chose for him was the winner. Collin doesn’t even know Raquel’s last name although she made him the proud owner of a precious and unique stone.
“It’s well understood who that stone is going to,” Collin said of Edith’s new bauble. “I’m going to have it appraised and probably set it into a pendant.”
Los Altos Hills residents Ed and Pamela Taft, who co-chaired the event, posted a $250,000 challenge grant, inspiring others to donate. In February, the Tafts donated $4 million – one of the largest donations in the hospital’s 50-year history – to establish the Taft Center for Clinical Research, a program designed to provide resources and infrastructure to support clinical researchers at the hospital campus’ Fogarty Institute for Innovation.
The $650,000 raised at the gala will support the new patient-navigator program for cancer patients at both the Mountain View and Los Gatos hospital campuses. Navigators assist patients and their families in assimilating the medical information, treatment options and decisions they face following a cancer diagnosis.
Like El Camino’s other major fundraisers such as the annual Heritage Golf Tournament that raises money for the Heart & Vascular Institute and Scarlet Night, which benefits the South Asian Heart Center, the Sapphire Soiree is now officially scheduled as an annual event, though the newly established fundraiser may not always fall on the hospital’s birthday.