Gala, Insurance Industry Raise $2 Million for City of Hope

By | November 4, 2013

The National Insurance Industry Council raised more than $2 million this year in the ongoing battle to cure cancer and diabetes, it was announced Monday.

A large portion of the funds were raised by the City of Hope’s Spirit of Life Gala on Oct. 26, which honored Greg Case, president and CEO of Aon plc.

This year’s annual NIIC charity dinner was held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. It drew roughly 400 attendees from throughout the insurance industry. The event also recognized the City of Hope’s 100th anniversary.

The event included dinner, entertainment and a silent auction for a number of items and opportunities, including a one-week cruise in the Caribbean on a private yacht donated by Gary Markel, with Markel Insurance Co. Bidding on the cruise alone raised $175,000.

Overall, $250,000 was raised by the auction, and nearly half of the entire 2013 campaign’s revenue came from the Spirit of Life Gala, according to organizers.

“It was great,” Ken Birkett, director of development of NIIC for the City of Hope, said of the gala. “It was one of the best events around – ever.”

Greg Case
City of Hope’s Spirit of Life Gala honored Greg Case, president and CEO of Aon plc.

Each year a prominent honoree is selected for work done in their profession and for their philanthropic efforts. The honoree is given The Spirit of Life Award, which is the City of Hope’s top honor.

Case, who is also a member of Aon’s board of directors, oversees 62,000 colleagues in more than 120 countries. He also serves on the boards of Discover Financial Services, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Field Museum of Natural History, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, CEO’s Against Cancer and St. John’s University School of Risk Management.

The Harvard MBA has nearly two decades of experience in the insurance and financial sectors. He joined Aon in 2005, and before that he served on the governing shareholders’ committee at McKinsey & Company, an international management consultant, and led their global insurance and financial services practice. Before McKinsey, Case worked for the investment banking firm of Piper, Jaffray and Hopwood and at the Federal Reserve Bank.

Birkett attributed much of the successful fundraising to Case’s involvement.

“Greg Case really brought a lot of people,” Birkett said. “We had a great show.”

From the moment Case was chosen as the honoree, he was not merely focused on raising money, but he showed great interest in perpetuating the cause of keeping alive and well the efforts to find cures for cancer and diabetes, according to Birkett.

“It wasn’t just about fundraising, he was more worried about how to sustain it over the next 100 years basically,” he said.

This also marks the final year for Cindy Belcher as president of NIIC, whom Birkett said has been an integral part of making the event and fundraising efforts successful.

“I want to thank Cindy for her guidance and wisdom in leading the campaigns for the last two years,” Birkett said. “These were also my first two years and she made it an easy transition and I enjoyed working with her. I can only hope that she will actively continue her involvement.”

The 2014 campaign will kick off on March 12 of next year, and Birkett said he’s already actively in discussions to plan out the next year, and the next gala.

“The advancements of diabetes and cancer research are at such an important milestone right now that the resources and support that we get will advance us or hasten us toward the cures,” Birkett said.

NIIC comprises representatives from life and property/casualty companies, law firms, brokers, accounting firms, reinsurers, executive placement firms and actuaries in the insurance industry.

Birkett encouraged members of the industry to get involved with raising funds and awareness for the City of Hope. Interested parties can email Birkett at: kenbirkett@coh.org.

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