The casino tables were packed with guests cheering every lucky hand and roll of the dice, but students were the true winners at WesternU’s annual fundraising gala “A Tribute to Caring” on Nov. 14, 2009.

A capacity crowd of 520 guests raised $130,000 for student scholarships and feted community leaders dedicated to higher education at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim.

WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD, thanked everyone for attending ATC. The goal of the event is to support students as they become caring, compassionate health care providers.

“That’s why we’re here tonight, to make sure all of our graduates understand and appreciate the human aspect of healing,” he said.

The 2009 ATC theme, “Western Expansion,” reflected the unprecedented growth at WesternU. During the 2009-10 academic year, WesternU is opening four new colleges and completing construction of more than 200,000 square feet of new academic and clinical buildings, including the Patient Care Center and the Health Education Center.

Pre-dinner festivities included Casino Night. Guests played blackjack, poker, craps and roulette for the chance to win raffle prizes, including a special Rose Parade and Rose Bowl package. Guests also received copies of a book by WesternU Board of Trustees member Vince Naimoli, “Business, Baseball & Beyond.”

The casino tables were filled to capacity and the roars from winners filled the hall. Every guest received chips, but some still took a conservative approach. Even though he wasn’t gambling real money, it was still hard to bet a lot of chips, said Richard Bond, DO, DrPH, FAAFP, WesternU Board of Trustees member and College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) alumnus. More importantly, Casino Night provided a guest-friendly activity that made the event more enjoyable, he said.

“This is a good way to relax people and help them feel more comfortable with the program,” Dr. Bond said.

ATC was supported by 53 sponsors and raised $130,000 for student scholarships, said Thomas Fox, PhD, WesternU Senior Vice President of Advancement. A special thank you goes out to the “Pioneer Sponsors” who each donated $10,000: the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation, DPR Construction Inc., Good Neighbor Pharmacy-AmerisourceBergen, Prime Healthcare Services and Wells Fargo Bank.

WesternU honored Drs. Daljit and Elaine Sarkaria with the Elie Wiesel Humanism in Healing Award and G. Patricia Beckman with the Humanitarian of the Year Award. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors received special recognition for its efforts on behalf of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, which partners with COMP as a leader in osteopathic residency education and as one of COMP’s core clinical rotation sites.

The Sarkarias, of Orange, are longtime supporters of WesternU’s research into Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. As part of WesternU’s expansion, they recently made a major commitment to the University’s new Health Education Center, and to supporting the establishment of the Dr. Philip Pumerantz Distinguished Lectureship.

Dr. Daljit Sarkaria, raised in India, is one of 10 children from a family that encouraged higher education. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology in India, he enrolled at Cornell University, where he earned a PhD in insect physiology and toxicology in 1948. He earned an MD from New York State University at Buffalo in 1957, then entered residency training at UCLA Medical School, which prepared him for a 22-year tenure with La Mirada Hospital, now Kindred Hospital-La Mirada, as a pathologist.

“ARMC is a place where professionalism, kindness, respect and human dignity abound,” she said.

Education provided many opportunities in their lives, allowing her husband to become a physician and allowing her to raise a family, Dr. Elaine Sarkaria said.

“We think education is the most important thing to maintain and improve society,” she said.

G. Patricia Beckman’s educational background mirrors WesternU’s multidisciplinary approach to health care. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Mills College and worked as an occupational therapist for nine years, and then returned to school to earn her bachelor’s degree, RN degree and a certificate in public health.

Beckman is a dedicated advocate for science education. She is the founding president of the ARCS Foundation Inc. Orange County Chapter and currently serves on the Board of Directors. Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation is a national volunteer women’s organization dedicated to helping outstanding U.S. graduate and undergraduate students by providing scholarship awards in the natural sciences, medicine, engineering, information and computer science and the biological sciences.

Her father, Dr. Arnold O. Beckman, is the founder of Beckman Instruments Inc., now Beckman Coulter Inc. He invented numerous scientific instruments that revolutionized the study and understanding of chemistry and biology. His acidimeter, the forerunner of the modern pH meter, earned him a place in the Inventors Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Mabel, have left a lasting philanthropic legacy through the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which supports the advancement of science education and research.

In accepting her award, Beckman recited a famous saying: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a month, get married. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.”

Beckman said the ceremony was very nice, and through this process she has become more aware of WesternU’s extensive fundraising for scholarships.

“I was glad to be a part of that,” she said. “I like to support young people in getting educated in their science education.”

COM P Dean Clinton Adams, DO, FAAFP, FACHE, made a special presentation to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in recognition of their support for Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC), which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. More than 100 WesternU students in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant education and physical therapy education rotate through ARMC every month, he said.

Josie Gonzales, Vice Chair of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, accepted the award on behalf of the board. She thanked Dr. Pumerantz for his leadership and for emphasizing the human side of medicine.

Among the guests were WesternU students who have benefited from ATC scholarships. Earning a scholarship provided extra money to buy books and took a weight off of her mind, said Claudia Villalpando, DO ’12. Her classmate, Yaminah Espinosa, DO ’12, agreed.

“It’s nice to know someone is out there looking out for the rest of us, that they are caring for other people,” she said.