Matt Damon Ghada Irani Michael Douglas

What an absolutely perfect evening at the UNICEF Ball! I sat with Laurel Barrack, Fabienne & Rick Guerin, and Kelly Day. It was so wonderful to see our philanthropic companies supporting UNICEF. Everyone looked beautiful in their long gowns. It’s a rare occasion when you get Los Angeles to dress up. They must have been in the mood after the Golden Globes. Michael Douglas and Jerry gave Matt Damon a Golden Globe at the event to even it up.

Thanks the support of the philanthropic community and Harry Weintraub, the event raised over $2 Million — the highest amount for a UNICEF event ever!

Kristen Chenoweth and Paul Anka were amazing but our very special Master of Ceremonies, Matt Damon, won our hearts. Thanks to Ghada Irani and so many of my wonderful friends.

Please read the full press release below for more details on how fabulous this event is for saving and improving children’s lives all over the world.

Press Release: UNICEF BALL

2014 UNICEF Ball Raises $2 Million

Michael Douglas and LA Philanthropist Ghada Irani honored for humanitarian work

LOS ANGELES (January 15, 2014) – The 2014 UNICEF Ball, held on Tuesday, January 14 at the Beverly Wilshire honored Michael Douglas and U.S. Fund for UNICEF Southern California Board Chair Ghada Irani for their commitment to saving and improving children’s lives. Presented by Baccarat, the gala raised more than $2 million for UNICEF’s global child survival and development programs. The event featured emcees Matt Damon and Jerry Weintraub along with special performances by Kristin Chenoweth, Paul Anka and Dancing with the Stars’ Cheryl Burke and Val Chmerkovskiy.

During the evening, Damon and Weintraub presented Douglas with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Peace Award. A United Nations Messenger of Peace since 1998, Douglas has used his voice to support the abolition of nuclear weapons and the prevention of small arms proliferation, participated in missions to Albania for an exchange of “jobs for weapons” campaign and traveled to Sierra Leone to participate in returning child soldiers to their families.

“It’s a profound honor to receive this recognition from UNICEF, an organization that bravely goes into the most dangerous and troubled parts of the world to advocate on behalf of children,” said Douglas. “The award bears the namesake of Danny Kaye, who was the first person I remember who recognized the power of celebrity and how to use it for the good of the world. I’m in incredible company and am deeply moved by this recognition.”

In accepting his honor, Douglas chose to share his award with Matt Damon who has championed for increased access to clean water and sanitation for the 780 million people who currently live without it. Surprised by the recognition, Damon commented, “Thank you very much, this is completely unexpected. A child dies every 20 seconds because they lack access to clean water. We’ve heard from UNICEF about the 18,0000 children who die every day of preventable causes, and water and sanitation are among them. I hope you will join us tonight in helping to reduce that number to zero.”

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III presented the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership award to Ghada Irani for her dedication to UNICEF’s mission. Over the last 13 years, Irani has helped the U.S. Fund for UNICEF build local and national leadership, corporate partnerships, and raise funds for the organization. She also recently traveled to the Za’atari camp in Jordan where UNICEF is implementing lifesaving interventions and is working to provide thousands of Syrian refugee children with child-friendly spaces to resume their education.

“Traveling to the refugee camp in Jordan was a life-changing experience,” said Irani. “I saw firsthand the struggles innocent children face every day to survive and regain a sense of normalcy after their lives have been upended. They desperately need food, clean water, shelter and access to education. I am humbled to be recognized by an organization that works nonstop to provide these essentials to children and helps ensure they have a brighter future.”

“We can’t control natural disasters or global conflicts – but we cannot ignore them either,” said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “Tonight’s honorees, Ghada Irani and Michael Douglas, know this well. Ghada has dedicated her life to bettering the lives of children of the crisis in her native Syria, while Michael has advocated on behalf of child soldiers in war torn Sierra Leone. They remind us that regardless of their lives here in California, thousands of miles away, children are born into conflict and we cannot let them down.”

Notable attendees included UNICEF Ambassadors Alyssa Milano and Téa Leoni, Anna Kendrick, Laura Marano, Danny Devito, Paul Anka, James Marsden, Sylvester Stallone, Sasha Alexander and Don Cheadle.

Tamar & Bob Manoukian were 2014 gala lead benefactors, with gala chairs Robert Day, Lori and Michael Milken, Susie Ekins and Jerry Weintraub, and leadership chairs Sharon and Gray Davis, Sandra Lee, Jamie McCourt, Jerry Perenchio, Julie Chen and Leslie Moonves. The event included a live auction raising over $500,000. Guests had the opportunity to purchase actual, lifesaving items for children affected by the conflict in Syria, including polio vaccines and blankets. More than $100,000 was also donated to support UNICEF education programs for children living in and around Syria who have lost access to school.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.

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Media Contact:
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212-922-2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org
Andrea Sioris, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212-880-9136, asioris@unicefusa.org