Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dinner salutes Dr. Hodes' work with Ethiopian kids



It was a real gamble, in this economy, to add one more event to Denver's already crowded fundraising scene, especially one where the least expensive ticket was $250 and the money would go to a medical mission half a world away.
RestaurateurNoel Cunninghamis used to taking chances, though, and in his heart he felt that his friends and customers would come through, opening their hearts and pocketbooks to hit the $500,000 goal he and co-chairsElaine Gantz BermanandJennifer Kraftset for the inaugural Dinner of Unconditional Love.

The event would honor Dr.Rick Hodes,and the money raised would support his work at the Mother Teresa Mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For the past 20 years, Hodes, medical director for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, has treated Ethiopian children with congenital and rheumatic heart disease, spine disease and cancer — youngsters who otherwise most likely would have died.

Hodes, who was at the dinner with two of the five Ethiopian children he has adopted, was saluted by the JDC's executive vice president,Steve Schwager; Marilyn Berger,whose book, "This Is a Soul," describes his work in one of the world's poorest countries; and Regis University PresidentMichael Sheeran,who conferred an honorary doctorate of humanitarian medicine degree on him.

RabbiSteven Fosterrecently spent two days with Hodes in Ethiopia, an experience he said vividly illustrated the Jewish mystical concept that at all times there are 36 "righteous souls" in the world and were it not for them the world would come to an end. "Nobody knows who they are, but I believe — no, I know — that two of them are right here in this room tonight: Dr. Rick Hodes and Noel Cunningham. Their dedication is unbelievable."
Find out who was at the dinner, and learn more about the contributions that Hodes, Noel and Tammy Cunningham and the JDC have made in Ethiopiaby logging onto my Seen First blog:blogs.denverpost.com/davidson.
Solomon Gobaw, left, Danny Ameha, Dejene Hodes and, in front, Mesfin Hodes

Joanne Davidson: 303-809-1314 orjdavidson@denverpost.com; also,blogs.denverpost.com/davidson and GetItWrite on Twitter

Ann Wilcox, left, Barbara Hughesand Faye Ganley wear some of the handcrafted scarves that were sold at the dinner.


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