Norwalk Hospital Foundation hosted the Hospital's 18th annual gala Oct. 15 at the Sono Field House in South Norwalk. More than 400 guests turned out for the sunset soiree, which featured cocktails, dinner, dancing, awards presentation and an auction. The event raised $425,000 for the Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital.

"We are so grateful to all of our gala guests and sponsors for supporting Norwalk Hospital and recognizing the importance of our mission to provide compassionate care with exceptional outcomes," said Mary Franco, president of Norwalk Hospital Foundation and vice president of public affairs. "The guests' energy and enthusiasm throughout the evening helped raise financial support for the Whittingham Cancer Center. Thanks to everyone's generosity, our community has access to the best cancer care in Fairfield County, right here at Norwalk Hospital."

During the event, the Hospital presented two prestigious awards recognizing exceptional physicians and nurses.

The William J. Tracey Award was resented to the physician whose exemplary commitment and philanthropic leadership strengthens Norwalk Hospital as a progressive leader in the healing arts.

This year's award was presented to Dr. Jonathan Fine, the director of medical education and research and program director of the fellowship program in pulmonary medicine. Fine has been instrumental in distinguishing Norwalk Hospital as one of the nation's top community hospitals through his work in quality, medical education and research.

The Connie and Betty Maniatty Award was presented to the nurse whose skill, compassion and philanthropic spirit demonstrate the highest dedication to the well-being of Norwalk Hospital patients and their families.

This year's award was presented to Jo Ritchie, the clinical educator for critical care. Ritchie has been instrumental in the success of several initiatives to improve nursing practice, quality and patient safety.

The 2010 gala committee consisted og chairwoman Donna DiScala of Norwalk; Susan Jensen, Joanne Perica and Mary Zara of New Canaan; Kristin Clemens, Jackie DeLise, Lauren Eason, Rachel Faber, Julie Murray, Allison Passero, Alison Scavone and Gigi Schmidt of Norwalk; Michele Keesser and Jan Rissolo of Southport; Cathleen Crowley-Piscitell, and Dr. Vicki Smetak of Weston; Kathryn Benedett Lupoli, Sally Berry, Varsha Pathare and Eva Trefz of Westport; and Beth Deardoff, Janet Dobos, Janienne Hackett and Dr. Saras Nair of Wilton.

Norwalk Hospital Foundation generates philanthropy and awareness to support Norwalk Hospital in being a leader in advanced medical care for the region.

As a non-profit organization, Norwalk Hospital Foundation relies on the generosity of the Fairfield County community to support the hospital's mission to provide excellent, innovative and compassionate health care with exceptional outcomes. Norwalk Hospital treats more than 180,000 patients each year.

For more information, visit www.norwalkhospitalfoundation.org or call 203-852-2350.