Dana Point’s Global Genes | RARE Project hosted the celebrity-studded first-annual “Tribute to Champions of Hope” benefit at the Balboa Bay Club last Thursday to recognize supporters of those with rare and genetic diseases.
With more than 400 guests in attendance, awards were presented to several individuals and organizations that have demonstrated support for finding treatments and cures for rare and genetic diseases. Rare diseases and disorders affect more than 30 million Americans and 350 million people worldwide.
The evening included live entertainment by American Idol Season Five Finalist Elliot Yamin accompanied by Gracie Van Brunt, a girl battling the rare genetic disease Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. The duet performed Stevie Wonder’s R&B classic “Superstition.” The evening also featured recording artists Chris Mann, performing Andre Bocelli’s “Because We Believe” and singer-songwriter Katrina Parker, both from Season Two of NBC’s The Voice. The performers closed the night with an encore performance of “Over the Rainbow.”
Actors Nestor Serrano and Meagan Tandy presented awards to the evening’s honorees. RARE honorees included Lifetime Achievement winner Henri Termeer, former president and CEO of the Genzyme Corporation, who was recognized for his work in developing innovative treatments and contributions in the field; and Patient Advocate of the Year, Bill Barkeley, a USC alum and deaf-blind advocate and adventurer. Several other attendees were honored for their activism and contributions to the cause.
Global Genes is a non-profit organization led by Team R.A.R.E promoting the needs of those affected by unifying the symbol of hope through the Blue Denim Genes Ribbon.
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