The JDRF Los Angeles held its first ever virtual star-studded JDRF “Reimagined” Imagine Gala: One Hour, One Cause on Saturday evening, June 27, 2020, raising over $836,000 to support JDRF's life-saving research to cure, treat, and prevent type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Bebe Rexha closed the evening out with her dazzling performance
Bebe Rexha closed the evening out with her dazzling performance

In respect for the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Imagine Gala broke from the traditional venue and was held in a “re-imagined” virtual format as an exciting celebration of inspiration, hope and outstanding fundraising honoring the legacy of Alfred E. Mann, developer of the popular MiniMed insulin pump. Since its inception 50 years ago, JDRF has funded virtually every major breakthrough in diabetes research.

This special “One Hour/One Cause” evening featured intimate musical performances by Bebe Rexha, Ozomatli, JoJo, and RaeLynn and was hosted by Frank Buckley, co-anchor of KTLA’s Emmy Award-winning Morning News and a T1D dad. Approximately 200 viewers tuned in and came together to support JDRF, dedicated to improving lives and curing type 1 diabetes in children and in adults.

Welcoming the program, Buckley said, “Tonight is about the power we have to do something about the disease that affects so many of us personally—whether it’s someone we love or if you have type 1 diabetes yourself. Together, with JDRF, we can’t be stopped. And we will end type 1 diabetes.”

JDRF Los Angeles Board President Daren Dickerson, also a T1D dad, said, “Finding a cure for type 1 diabetes is near and dear to so many of us. Throughout JDRF’s 50-year history, we have fought to advance type 1 diabetes science and pursue tangible, promising studies for breakthroughs. Our focus is on curing T1D, preventing T1D and improving the lives of with T1D. On behalf of the LA Board of Directors, thank you for your support, your advocacy and your community. We’re all in this together. Our mission cannot stop.”

JDRF’s President and CEO Aaron Kowalski gave an inspiring presentation “The Power of Us- From Start to Finish” of the history of JDRF’s 50 years and the wonderful research and findings that JDRF has funded and achieved to find a cure for type 1 diabetes over the past five decades.

The gala kicked off with a performance by the Grammy-Award winning group Ozomatli, LA’s Latin, hip hop and funk super group. Multi-platinum recording artist JoJo, who won a Grammy this year for Best R&B Song with PJ Morton, performed her hit song “Small Things.” Platinum-selling singer and songwriter RaeLynn, who was a contestant on The Voice and also lives with type 1 diabetes, gave an enchanting performance of “Queens Don’t”. Grammy-nominated New York City native Bebe Rexha closed the evening out with her dazzling performance of “Meant to Be.”

The JDRF Los Angeles Imagine Gala proudly honored the legacy of Alfred E. Mann and the Alfred Mann Family Foundation. Mann was the developer of the popular MiniMed insulin pumps, now owned by Medtronic. Mr. Mann was a physicist, inventor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist whose work in the diabetes space is unparalleled — from being on the forefront of insulin pump therapy to the development of inhalable insulin. His inventions and technologies, including cardiac pacemakers, solar cells and cochlear implants, have improved the lives of millions of people, including those with diabetes. Alfred Mann Trustees Anoosheh Bostani and Mike Dreyer accepted the award on behalf of the Alfred Mann Family Foundation, which has generously committed to donate $250,000 to JDRF’s Center of Excellence in Northern California. These centers represent an exciting new research model aimed at accelerating science in curing T1D and improving lives. The Foundation has committed over $2.2B to cumulative research funding since 1970, awarded 150 new research grants in FY2019, and is currently funding over 70 active clinical trials and research in 21 countries across the globe.

JDRF Gala Honorary Chair and music industry professional, Katie Vinten, gave a moving description about how type 1 diabetes has made her a T1D mom and how she is compelled to help eradicate the disease. In addition, Marc and Robyn Sidoti, last year’s honorees and this year’s honorary co-chairs, gave an impassioned account of their determination to make a change for their daughter Juliette who has T1D and to help find a cure for her and others with the disease. Other moving testimonies were made by JDRF Youth Ambassadors Morgan Stoler, Jonah Marks, Micah Funk, Rachel Youngstrom, Lusin Yengivaryan, Ava Bourdeau and JDRF Leaders Miles Jackson, Kayse Willard, Jeff Miller, Michelle Damasco, and Peter and his young son Reid Durning. JDRF Youth Ambassador, Arden Suvalle, sang beautifully. Shout outs from JDRF Celebrity Ambassadors included Derek Theler, Austin Basis, Brec Bassinger and Sugar Ray Leonard.

The Virtual Imagine Gala culminated with the JDRF’s signature call-to-action, Fund A Cure, with the help of a number of children ambassadors with T1D. Each donor’s name was scrolled on the screen as they pledged. Fund A Cure is a unique opportunity for 100% of donations received to go to ground-breaking research. The path to a cure for diabetes is as complex as the disease itself, but tremendous progress is being made daily and the goal is in sight. This year’s Fund A Cure raised more than $650,000.

The evening also included a silent auction with exciting items including a guitar signed by Katy Perry, a signed Shepard Fairey print, A.H. Hirsch Bourbon, Lakers tickets, trips, wine, and one of a kind experiences including an hour of tennis with Wimbledon champ Pam Shriver, among many others.

Returning again as producer of this year’s JDRF Gala was Erick Weiss of Honeysweet Creative. The JDRF Imagine Gala was proudly supported by Presenting Sponsor: Medtronic; Production Sponsor: Millennium Media; Silver Sponsors: Akin Gump, Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, ABC Entertainment, Mitchell & Nina Quaranta, Mannkind, Swat Fame Inc., Ben Leeds Properties, Marc & Robyn Sidoti, Rae Sanchini & Bruce Tobey, Karolyn Allen; Bronze Sponsor: The Stoler Report.

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