The Winter Ball, the premier fundraising gala supporting the mission of the academic health sciences center comprising UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center, crossed the $1 million threshold for the second straight year. The Dec. 1 event, which included Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito among its 430 attendees, raised more than $1.4 million, a new gala record.
Since 2009, members of the Central Massachusetts community—business and civic leaders, philanthropists and humanitarians—have gathered in early December at the Winter Ball to celebrate and support the lifesaving work of these two institutions. Including this year’s record amount, the total raised by the event is more than $7.4 million. Event proceeds are generated from corporate sponsorships—which also hit a record high, totaling more than $638,000—silent and live auctions, a Fund-a-Need auction segment and individual ticket sales.
“The Winter Ball is a great opportunity to celebrate the strong relationship between the UMass Medical community and their local partners throughout the region,” said Baker. “Lt. Governor Polito and I appreciate the important philanthropic work this community is doing on behalf of Central Massachusetts.”
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In a joint statement the leaders of both organizations—Eric W. Dickson, MD, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, and Michael F. Collins, MD, chancellor of UMass Medical School—praised the community’s commitment and support of the gala.
“We continue to be humbled by the incredible kindness and generosity of the people in Central Massachusetts who recognize the important role of our academic medical center in the community,” Dr. Dickson and Dr. Collins said. “We want to thank our Winter Ball sponsors and patrons for their support in making this night possible. We also want to commend our co-chairs and staff for having the vision and imagination to create such a fun, meaningful and memorable event. Funds raised through the Winter Ball have a direct impact on our mission.”
Each year, a program, center or other important initiative at UMass Medical School and/or UMass Memorial is selected as a Fund-a-Need beneficiary. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was the beneficiary this year. Pledges of more than $250,000 were made during the live auction and that amount was matched by anonymous donors, raising the total to more than $500,000, making it the largest amount raised for a Fund-a-Need recipient in the history of the event.
The UMass Memorial NICU is internationally recognized for quality care and is the region's only Level III NICU for high-risk obstetrical and neonatal care. The NICU staff cares for more than 600 low-birth weight and high-risk infants annually.
”I am overwhelmed by this incredible showing of support for the NICU,” said Larry Rhein, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics at UMMS and UMass Memorial chief of neonatology and director of the NICU. “On behalf of our nurses, physicians and entire staff who work around the clock providing great care for the most vulnerable patients, I want to thank the patrons of the 2017 Winter Ball for this generous donation. These funds will help us accomplish even better outcomes for families.”
Planning for the milestone 10th Annual Winter Ball in 2018 has already begun.