Sunday, September 8, 2019
Pacific Marine Mammal Center

PMMC’s Most Successful Gala Ever

PMMC’s Most Successful Gala Ever

Pacific Marine Mammal Center Raises Nearly $430,000 at Most Successful Gala to Date

An annual fundraiser to raise funds for PMMC’s marine mammal patients, education and conservation programs hits a high note.

Laguna Beach, CA Thursday, September 12, 2019 – Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) hosted their “Call of the Sea Gala” fundraiser on Sunday, September 8, 2019, at The Ranch in Laguna Beach. This year’s event was the most successful to date raising nearly $430,000 for PMMC’s marine mammal patients, education programs, and research and conservation initiatives.

The event kicked off with a tribute video of co-founder John Cunningham. Cunningham who started PMMC, or then known as Friends of the Sea Lion, back in 1971 with Jim Stauffer, continues to be intimately involved with the organization, and this was an opportunity to reflect on his contributions to the organization and the greater community over the years. Without a dry eye in the house, he received a standing ovation.

“It truly has been a pleasure and an honor – to continue his dream of what he started nearly 50 years ago,” said Director of Animal Care, Michele Hunter, who has worked with John the past 30 years.

“JC – Thank you for being a mentor, thank you for being a friend, thank you for being a game changer and inspiration in my life,” said The Ranch’s owner, Mark Christy, a former student and longtime friend of Cunningham’s.

The night also honored PMMC’s Philanthropist of the Year Western Digital and Junior Philanthropist of the Year Chloe Mei Espinosa, founder of the Skip the Plastic Straw Campaign.

Western Digital and PMMC’s partnership began in 2017. Over 400 Western Digital employees have participated in collaborative beach clean-ups and other volunteer events at PMMC, including scrubbing pens, cleaning pools and weighing fish to help our animal care team. Volunteering and giving back to their community is a cornerstone of Western Digital’s culture. Employees are encouraged and inspired to come together, get involved and help protect and preserve the environment.

Chloe Mei Espinosa, PMMC’s Junior Philanthropist of the Year started her “Skip the Plastic Straw” campaign when she was in 6th grade. What started as just a school project, her goal was to raise awareness in her local community and to reduce the use of single-use plastic. She has now taken her campaign a step further. Since her web launch in April of 2018 she has convinced three school districts – 128 total schools – and a nonprofit health care organization in Orange County to Skip the Plastic Straw in all their cafeterias.

“Western Digital and Chloe Mei Espinosa embody the considerable and much-needed support that we get in the community. This comes in so many forms and helps us in every aspect of what we do, whether it’s our animal care operations, greater conservation efforts, education and outreach programs, or scientific research. We are not going to be able to fulfill our mission alone. It’s been a collaborative effort since Day 1 as this philosophical methodology of getting things accomplished is embedded in our culture,” said Peter Chang, CEO of PMMC.

PMMC would also like to thank the Wheeland Brothers for providing their beach rock reggae music styling for the evening and the following sponsors who made the night possible:The Massen Greene Foundation, Lisa Argyros and The Argyros Family Foundation, Martha and Kozo Shimano, Scott Struthers and Amber Ringstad on behalf of The Elephant Cooperation, Western Digital, First American Trust, Union Bank, Ann Metzger with The Agency, Barbara and Greg MacGillivray, The Ocean Institute, Alaska Airlines, Chick-Fil-A, Montage Laguna Beach, The Resort at Pelican Hill, Angels Baseball, Monarch Beach Resort, Anaheim Ducks, The Ranch, Holland America, NCIS Producers, Mauna Lani Auberge Resort, Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club, Jaguar Land Rover Newport Beach, Marche Moderne, Petit Ermitage Hotel West Hollywood, Surf and Sand Resort Laguna Beach, Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, Allyance Communications, Lido House Newport Beach, Yamaha Motor Corporation, Catalina Conservancy, Noble House Hotels, The Marine Mammal Center, SeaWorld, Wyland Foundation, Life Aquatic Expeditions, International Site Alliance, and UCI Athletics.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center, September 12, 2019, Media Release
Philanthropist of the Year
Western Digital

Junior Philanthropist of the Year
Chloe Mei Espinosa

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