At just 11 years-old, Dustin Meraz knew he wanted his life to make a difference for seriously ill children. A terminal cancer patient, Dustin’s last wish was to inspire grown-ups to have the courage to care about kids in need.

His story inspired the biennial Children's Hospital Los Angeles Gala: Noche de Niños, a red carpet gala celebrating the hospital’s true heroes—patients like Dustin, their exceptional caregivers and the supporters who help make miracles happen every day.

On Saturday, October 20, more than 1,000 celebrities, prominent philanthropists, business leaders and local dignitaries will gather at The Event Deck at L.A. LIVE, which will be transformed into an enchanted forest for the 2012 Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Gala: Noche de Niños. Proudly supported by AEG and presented by The Walt Disney Company, Delta, Costco Wholesale, Alyce and Warren “Spud” Williamson, Dayle and Ken Roath and The Estate of Cameron Glidewell, the black tie affair raises millions of dollars to help fund the hospital’s most critical needs, including patient care, support for families in need and pediatric medical research.

This year, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will honor The Walt Disney Company, Lakers power forward and NBA superstar Pau Gasol, and supermodel, television host, mom and designer Heidi Klum with the “Courage to Care Award” for their dedication and support of the hospital’s mission and the patients it serves. Previous honorees include Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lopez and Jamie Lee Curtis.

“We are deeply appreciative of our steadfast relationship with The Walt Disney Company, Heidi Klum, and Pau Gasol,” says Richard Cordova, FACHE, president and CEO, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “It is our privilege to honor them at Noche de Niños and highlight the incredible work they do. Their continued compassion and support has made a truly positive impact in the lives of countless patients and families.”

For nearly thirty years, The Walt Disney Company has dedicated significant time, talent and treasures to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, bringing happiness, hope and laughter to children and families when they need it most. The heart of this relationship has always been the people of Disney, including dedicated Disney VoluntEARS who give their time to comfort and entertain patients, the Disney Tri-Team, which has raised over $1.3 million to benefit the pediatric cancer research program, and Disney Imagineers who used their creative skills to design the hospital’s main lobby.

Since Heidi Klum first visited Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, she fell in love with the kids, and, as a mom of four, has been a passionate advocate of the hospital’s mission. Heidi’s involvement has been as diverse as her talents that have made her a famous supermodel, actress, businesswoman and television producer, from surprising some lucky patients who accompanied her on the red carpet of the premiere of Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil to serving as Celebrity Ambassador for the Turn on the Lights! 5k Walk for kids celebrating and raising funds for the opening of the Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion, to name just a few.

A pre-med student before his championship basketball career, Pau is a frequent visitor and champion for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Pau has stopped by to visit with patients, distributed tickets to the NBA All-Star Jam Session, facilitated a donation of new technology to our pharmacy from Grifols (a company based in his native city of Barcelona) and, most recently, presented a check for $25,000 from the NBA Cares Foundation. He has also observed several spinal surgeries and starred in our interactive game Where’s Pau Now? showcasing the new healing spaces in the Anderson Pavilion.

Other celebrities who will grace the Noche de Niños stage include Emmy-winning host of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” Tom Bergeron, who will serve as the night’s Master of Ceremonies; renowned former NBA player and head coach, Phil Jackson, actress and author Jamie Lee Curtis, and actress and philanthropist Melanie Griffith, who will serve as presenters during the program; and Grammy-nominated and Billboard chart-topping band Five For Fighting, who will provide the evening’s headline entertainment.

Noche de Niños kicks off with red carpet arrivals at 5:30pm, followed by a cocktail reception and dinner where guests will enjoy food prepared by renowned celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.

This event is not open to the public. To purchase a ticket, visit

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