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Monday, Aug. 9, 2021

An Evening for Healers


Celebrating 10 Years of Heroes, Healing and Hope

The LSU Health Sciences Foundation will return with its signature fundraising event benefiting LSU Health Shreveport, An Evening for Healers, on Thursday, Sept. 9, at the Shreveport Convention Center.

Now in its 10th year, has served as a platform to shine a light on our community’s unsung heroes: physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and first responders who work tirelessly to save lives every day. Through dramatic documentaries, the inspiring stories of patients who received life-saving care at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport and beat the odds are shared during the event.

Over the past 10 years, An Evening for Healers has raised over $2.5 million to support LSU Health Shreveport in its mission to deliver expert patient care, conduct transformational research and provide world-class educational opportunities for health-care professionals. Sponsorships and funds raised throughout the years have also benefitted faculty recruitment, student-led research, facility enhancements, and equipment and technology upgrades.

Originally titled An Evening for Heroes, the Foundation created the gala to highlight remarkable patient stories and honor the first responders, trauma teams and LSU Health Shreveport clinical faculty involved in these heroic events, raising unrestricted funding for the institution. The event has since expanded to showcase the incredible care patients received at the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, rehabilitation services at the School of Allied Health Professions, and clinical trials through the Office of Research. Each year more community members, LSU Health Shreveport alumni and faculty gather together to support the event, with a record 1,200 attendees expected this year. Past guests of honor have included Gov. John Bel Edwards, Congressman Steve Scalise and civil rights leader Dr. C.O. Simpkins.

“At the first Evening for Heroes, we immediately realized how special it was,” says Marianne Comegys, co-chair of the first event and former library director at LSU Health Shreveport. “It was clear from the tears on people’s faces that these stories, and especially all the healers and heroes, touched everyone in attendance. I’m so proud that this event continues to be such a success and has helped raise money for our institution and the many health-care professionals who impact lives every single day.”

Since 2011, over 600 incredible heroes have been honored, and 19 moving patient stories have been shared. This year’s event will commemorate the 10th anniversary by providing updates on patients highlighted in previous years.

Juan Zuniga, a featured patient in 2018’s An Evening for Healers, spent three months in intensive care after suffering gunshot wounds during a robbery at his family’s restaurant, El Compadre. “I was unconscious most of my time in the hospital, so I never got a chance to meet the people who helped me. Seeing them all together for the first time was a surreal experience,” Juan remembers. “It was truly a blessing to see them again and thank them.”

This year’s event will honor 100 more dedicated heroes and showcase three more patient stories. Those in attendance will hear firsthand how local physician Dr. Bill Whyte fought for his own life in a lengthy battle against COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. Additionally, the heart-wrenching stories will be retold of a young Shreveport girl playing in her backyard who suffered accidental strangulation and a father-to-be who sustained life-threatening injuries in a car accident on I-20. These patients overcame the unthinkable thanks to the expertise of their first responders and trauma teams at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport, our region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center.

Ochsner Health is once again the presenting sponsor this year.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, An Evening for Healers was canceled in 2020 and postponed in early 2021. Though we are not through the pandemic’s dark days, there is still much to celebrate in all LSU Health Shreveport has accomplished. The event will also highlight the dedicated scientists who developed robust COVID-19 testing, widespread community vaccination clinics, and those who have worked diligently to lead Louisiana in genomic sequencing of the virus.

“We are so thankful for the opportunity to honor our healers. The last year has revealed, more than ever before, how fortunate we are to have an academic medical center of LSU Health Shreveport’s caliber right here in our community,” said 2021 event chair Waynette Ballengee. “I’m proud of the unbelievable work LSU Health Shreveport’s faculty physicians, scientists and staff do every day. They care for our citizens, educate future health-care providers and find cures for complex diseases and illnesses. Whether you realize it or not, your life has been impacted by this incredible institution.”

How to Attend: As of this article’s printing, the welcome reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with dinner beginning at 7 p.m. at the Shreveport Convention Center. Proof of vaccination will be required for all attendees to include those being honored. Non-vaccinated individuals will be able to enjoy the event virtually. For the most current event details, go to www. lsuhsfoundation.org/healers as we recognize we are in the midst of circumstances that could result in further modifications to the event.

Limited sponsorship opportunities are available from $2,000, and individual tickets can be purchased for $150.

More information can be found at www.lsuhsfoundation.org/healers or by calling the LSU Health Sciences Foundation at 318.861.0855.


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