EL Paso Times
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To raise money for the El Paso Children’s Hospital and get a chance to meet actress America Ferrera, hundreds of El Pasoans and dignitaries donated their Friday evening to the second annual Milagro Gala.
All proceeds will benefit the hospital.
About 1,000 attended the gala at the El Paso convention center. More than $150,000 was raised in ticket sales.
Officials said more was raised through the gala’s silent auction. An estimated 750 people attended last year’s gala.
Ferrera, the guest speaker at the event, said El Paso had a dear place in her heart because her husband, Ryan Piers Williams, was raised here. Ferrera, a Los Angeles native, has starred in films such as “Real Women Have Curves” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” and in the ABC show “Ugly Betty.”
“I cannot even begin to fathom the kind of work that has taken El Paso to go from a dramatically underserved community to now as one that has one of the most advanced children’s hospital in Texas,” Ferrera said. “Now children and families that previously had to leave town to receive care have access to this incredible facility and to the pediatric specialists that work here.”
Ferrera also spoke about health care in the nation.
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve been paying close attention to the way health care has been discussed and dissected in the media,” Ferrera said. “Thanks to the upcoming presidential election, we’re seeing this critical issue being reduced to 10-second sound bites and political rhetoric. But health care can’t be reduced to just another bullet point on a political agenda. The way that we as a country care for our injured and our sick says as much about us as a nation than any other issue.”
The $120 million children’s hospital opened last month. Since then, it has served many El Pasoans and their families, officials said.
“The hospital is thriving,” CEO Larry Duncan said. “We didn’t expect it immediately, but it happened immediately. Since it has opened, we’ve had an overflow of patients into our ICU because that is how needed this hospital was.”
Items including Mary Kay gift baskets, a year’s supply of Price’s Creameries ice cream and a signed guitar from Mayor John Cook were up for bid in the silent auction.
Christopher Hall, an English teacher at Montwood High School, and his wife, April, hoped that their donation would go toward not only the children in the community but also developing a medical presence in the city.
“We need to start getting our own doctors, local doctors that begin their education here and complete it by working at the hospital,” Christopher Hall said.
“There’s really not that many options to stay here, to be honest. Texas Tech is your best bet, but there is not a lot of training options here. They have a way to prep them but no way to send them out to really do something — so it would be better if people could learn and stay here.”
During his speech, Duncan choked back tears as he recalled a recent visit into a patient’s room at UMC.
“I went in not knowing what to expect,” Duncan said. “It was a grandfather and his granddaughter, and they were sitting in the bed. He said, ‘This is the best care we could’ve expected. Why didn’t this city built this hospital until now?’ It’s a very good question.”
Alex Hinojosa may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6137.