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Secretary Leon Panetta Honored at Celebrate the Red Gala

2014-10-08 - Santa Cruz - Secretary Leon Panetta Honored at Celebrate the Red Gala

From left to right: Tom Honig, Harvey Nickelson, Rick Martinez, Oscar Rios, Jake Wormhoudt on behalf of Mardi Wormhoudt, Ceil Cirillo, Gary Smith, Secretary Leon Panetta and Ginaia Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of the Santa Cruz County Chapter.

SANTA CRUZ, CA – On Saturday, September 27, leading members of the Santa Cruz County philanthropic community gathered at the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for the fourth annual “Celebrate the Red Gala.” They honored Former Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta and ten other members of the community who assisted in the response and recovery after the quake. The event commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which occurred on October 17, 1989.

The American Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter raised awareness of the vital role that the Red Cross plays in the local community while enjoying a champagne reception, buffet dinner, and participating in a silent and live auction. The generosity of donors made it possible for trained Red Cross volunteers to respond immediately after the disaster, providing food, shelter, and health services to those affected.

Secretary Leon Panetta was presented with the Chapter 2014 Humanitarian of the Year award. Secretary Leon Panetta has served the Santa Cruz community, the region, and the country in a most remarkable way. He has been a champion of the Monterey Bay Region from his early years as a United States Representative for our community during the Loma Prieta Earthquake. He was instrumental in working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to obtain disaster funding to help communities receive the resources they needed to begin the recovery process.

Nine other members of the community were honored for their efforts when Loma Prieta hit in 1989. Honorees included Oscar Rios, Don French, Tom Honig, Ceil Cirillo, Dick Wilson, Harvey Nickelson, Gary Smith and posthumously honored John Lisher and Mardi Wormhoudt.

The program was emceed by Phil Gomez of KSBW and hosted by Rick Martinez, Chapter Board Chair. Michael Termini, a board member for the Chapter and Capitola’s City Councilmember, was the program’s auctioneer who helped motivate more than 350 attendees to donate more than $38,000 to help support disaster preparedness and relief efforts locally. Guests also had the opportunity to bid on several gift packages including a seven-course meal by Russ and Judy Patterson, a Bay Area flight with board member Rayvon Williams from Watsonville Airport along the Bay Area Coast to San Francisco, a BBQ and tour of the Fire Museum at the Watsonville Fire Station and a private tour of the Santa Cruz Police Station with Deputy Police Chief, Rick Martinez.

Presenting Sponsors include Dignity Health Medical Group Dominican, Physicians Medical Group, Dominican Hospital, and Granite Construction. Emergency Response Sponsors include Bay Federal Credit Union and First Alarm Security Services. Media sponsors include Santa Cruz Sentinel, 92.7 KTOM, 102.5 KDON, KSCO AM 1080, the Santa Cruz Wave, KSBW and Joyce Anderson Productions. Table sponsors include DeCamara Property Management, Fox Racing, PG&E, Petrinovich Pugh and Co, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Rayvon Williams, Sally Shepard, Shana Schuette, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, Santa Cruz County Bank, and Thornton Kontz. Red Cross Supporters include California Pajarosa Floral, Cartwright, Scruggs, Fulton & Walter, Rowland and Pat Rebele, The Richard and Mary Solari Charitable Trust, Kathryn Kennedy: Sparkling Wine, The Family Album Project, and Woodworm Party Store.

Pictures from this event can be found on the Chapter’s Flickr account:

About the American Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter

The American Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter is a non-profit, humanitarian organization that depends on the generous contributions of time and money from Santa Cruz County residents and companies to provide services and programs that help our community to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. For more information on disaster preparedness, health and safety classes, volunteer opportunities, and financial contributions, visit our website at or call us at 831-462-2881. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.