Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

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Cleveland Clinic Children’s Gala

The Cleveland Clinic (CC) Children’s Gala, formerly know as the HeartThrob Ball, honors brave children facing medical obstacles. Now in its 24th year, the annual benefit drew close to 900 supporters to Cleveland Public Auditorium.

Each year, three inspiring pediatric patients are presented with the Courage Award. The 2014 honorees were Mahmoud Ahmad (12), Jacob Miller (17) and Aulorah Stringer (12). Mahmoud was three when it was discovered that he had IPEX syndrome, the same rare genetic immune disorder that killed his older brother. He was not well enough to be present, so another brother spoke on behalf of the family. Jacob Miller was 10 when he was diagnosed with Danon disease, a very rare genetic condition characterized by severe heart problems. By age 16 he was listed for a heart transplant and he received a new heart last year. Aulorah was born with a cleft lip and a severe bilateral cleft palate. After more than 10 surgeries, her palate could not be closed. When her father was transferred to Cleveland, Dr. Gaby Doumit, director of cleft lip/palate and craniofacial surgery, undid everything that had been done, closed the hard palate, “and changed her life in a couple of hours,” said her mother.

Co-chairs of this special evening were Lorraine Dodero and Umberto P. Fedeli. The Gala raised a record $1.2 million! Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte, chair and physician-in-chief of CC Children’s, said the funds will help, “create a pediatric research center that generates new research, new medicines and new therapies.”

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY CAROLINE R. MERK

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