Philanthropic Fun: Starry Night

Ochsner Cancer Institute raised $1.7 million with a moon and starlit gala in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Inaugural Co-Chair Lollie Rozas, Event Chair Gayle Benson, Inaugural Co-Chair Celia Ward and Ochsner Health System CEO Warner Thomas


Stars and a crescent moon hung from the ceiling of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to herald the annual “Moonlight & Miracles,” which raises funds for the Ochsner Cancer Institute, the organization that offers comprehensive cancer services, access to cancer research and new cancer treatment development across the Gulf South.

The 2018 Miracle Makers of the Year were Norris Smith, Lupo Williams and Dr. Troy Scroggins.

The evening opened with cocktail hour music and dinner entertainment by violinist SPAGS, who roamed the room serenading guests with her iconic electric violin music. Following was the presentation of colors and the national anthem, featuring U.S. Navy Color Guard Naval Air Station and Joint Reserve Base Belle Chasse and Navy Counselor, Petty Officer First Class Sarah Prather, USN.

Heavy construction equipment rigged the turf, bringing together the expansion and construction theme. The Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center is currently undergoing a $48 million expansion, expected to be open in early 2020.

Approximately 2,000 attendees were seated at the 200 tables festooned with custom black and silver geometrical and architectural design tablecloths, adorned with centerpieces of golden yellow roses and white lilies. Catering was by Executive Chef Lenny Martinsen of Centerplate.

A “Blueprint for Greatness” video including several cancer patients/survivors and providers was played. A featured patient video of Michelle Defrisco closed the presentation portion of the event.

A raffle featured a grand prize of a 2019 White C-Class Mercedes-Benz.

After-dinner dancing commenced under the Gala Moon with musical entertainment by 14-piece dance band with DJ, The Wedded.

“2018 Moonlight & Miracles” Inaugural Co-Chairs were Lollie Rozas and Celia Ward.

Event at a Glance

What: “Moonlight & Miracles,” benefiting Ochsner Health System
When: Friday, November 9
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome

Honoree Norris Smith and Dr. John Cole
Dr. Lock Ochsner, Mary Lou Ochsner, Brook Ochsner and Lori Ochsner
Donna and Paul Flower
Dr. Leo Seoane, Stephanie November and Bill Oliver
Father Tim Hedrick, Jennifer and Dennis Lauscha and Miles Clements