From the planes on the tarmac, to the grand motorcycle entrance by gala host Greg Olsen – to the moving stories of young heart transplant patients and the dynamic performance by O.A.R. – the annual Levine Children’s Gala truly was an inspirational evening, full of surprises.
On March 17, the 4th Annual Levine Children’s Gala, presented by PNC Bank, hosted 600 special friends and supporters at a unique new venue – the hangar at Charlotte Douglas International Airport that houses Atrium Health’s MedCenter Air fleet. The event took flight as guests socialized on the tarmac, toured various planes, and were entertained by a “sky-high” greeter who literally floated in the air.
Gene Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health, welcomed guests from center stage and gave a heartfelt thank you to attendees for their support, including a special standing ovation for Sandra and Leon Levine. “You help us breathe life into our mission to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all,” said Woods. He also recognized PNC Bank for serving as presenting sponsor since the gala’s inception.
Dr. Stacy Nicholson, President of Levine Children’s, shared brief remarks, prior to introducing Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, lead emcee for the evening. The crowd enjoyed light-hearted videos produced by Olsen’s teammate Ryan Kalil: A Top-Gun spin-off that included Olsen, Luke Kuechly, and PNC President Weston Andress; as well as a NASCAR-themed piece that highlighted driver Jimmie Johnson.
Thank you, gala committee: Candy and Darren Bing, Katy and Matt Burge, Stephanie and Howard Bissell, Amy and Alfred Dawson, Sherrard and John Georgius, Stephanie and David Gitlin, Mandy and Todd Houser, Emily and Tyler Johnson, Kara and Greg Olsen, Ana and Manuel Rey, Tiffany and Scott Smith, Amy and Martin Welton.
Surprise guest, nine-year-old Skylar Myers – a patient who underwent a heart transplant at Levine Children’s when he was just three months old – joined Greg onstage, along with WBTV evening anchor Molly Grantham, who interviewed Skylar and inspired guests with his miraculous story. Guests were further inspired when Greg announced that the Levine Family had issued a half million-dollar matching gift challenge.
The challenge was met with great enthusiasm by gala guests, including representatives from Levine Children’s Hospital, as well as national and local celebrities, athletes, philanthropists, and corporate supporters. In addition to PNC, major gala sponsors were UTC Aerospace Systems, US Trust, Barings, the Beck Group, Office Environments, and Brighthouse Financial.
Throughout the evening, guests enjoyed silent and live auctions, as well as a special performance by a speed painter. The gala concluded with a performance by headline entertainment group, O.A.R., followed by an after party, complete with [back by popular demand] silent disco.
Coupled with the Levine Family Challenge (which was met!), the 2018 Levine Children’s Gala collectively raised $1.4 million to benefit Levine Children’s.