LifeStream was proud and honored to host 1,000 guests including its most dedicated and prolific blood donors Sunday, March 18 at the 35th Annual Gift of Life Tribute, 10-Gallon Donor Celebration at the Riverside Convention Center.
Event highlights were many and emotions were genuine, beginning with a hushed, respectful welcome to the City of Riverside Fire Department Honor Guard presenting the colors; a moving rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” sung by Alessandra Sorace; and concluding with a rousing ovation to salute LifeStream’s 19, 100-gallon donors.
The Humanitarian of the Year Award was presented to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP), with special acknowledgment to CVEP CEO Joe Wallace; City of La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans; City of Indio Councilmember Elaine Holmes; and City of Palm Desert Councilmember Jan Harnik.
Under the CVEP banner in 2013, the trio of elected officials collaborated on creation of the Coachella Valley Nine Cities Blood Drive Challenge, an initiative designed to bring greater attention to the issue of blood donation at a time of year (summer) when Valley population dips.
Mariah Salomon’s, Coachella, fight for life after being attacked by a dog was the subject of LifeStream’s new donor-patient video. Mariah’s mother Veronica re-visited a day of shock and period of uncertainty while then 2-year-old Mariah underwent treatment for severe facial wounds. With the assistance of dozens of blood products, now 4-year-old Mariah is back to her smiling, playful self.
“You are our inspiration,” Veronica said to assembled guests.
Richard Guerrero, MD, FACS, chair of the transfusion committee at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, was presented LifeStream’s Medical Honoree Award. Dr. Guerrero was introduced by Joe Chaffin, MD, LifeStream’s chief medical officer, who provided a thumbnail glance into the practice of transfusion medicine and Dr. Guerrero’s leadership in seeing to superior patient outcomes.
Heritage High School (Menifee) senior Pablo Espinoza accepted LifeStream’s Youth Ambassador of the Year Award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship. Pablo was chosen for his dedication to improving school blood drives and overall service to his community.
Special guests included past donor-patient subjects Adrian Grajeda, Palm Desert, and “Baby” Paisley Arnold; mobile blood drive chairpersons; event sponsors; day-of event volunteers; and LifeStream employees recognized for 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years’ service with the organization who were introduced by LifeStream President, CEO and Medical Director Frederick Axelrod, MD.
Prior to the luncheon and program, guests enjoyed a free photo op, and silent auction.
LifeStream welcomed back 95.1 KFROG radio personality Heather Froglear as mistress of ceremonies. Heather’s connection to blood donors is personal; her now 10-year-old daughter required blood products for treatment of a congenital heart condition. Heather is a donor and a strong voice and advocate for the cause of voluntary blood donation.
LifeStream is the exclusive provider of blood products and services to all Coachella Valley hospitals. For more information about blood donation and/or to set an appointment to give the gift of life, call 800-879-4484 or visit LStream.org.