The Wellstar Foundation raised more than $900,000 toward combating the behavioral health crisis facing Georgia during its 23rd annual Starlight Grand Gala on April 23 at The St. Regis Atlanta.
Sponsored by ApolloMD and Bank of America, the black-tie event was emceed by Condace Pressley, Director of Community and Public Affairs at WSB-TV, and included a cameo video from Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, both of whom were born at Wellstar’s flagship hospital in Marietta, Georgia, Wellstar Kennestone Regional Medical Center.
Atlanta Hawks Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins also energized the sold-out crowd by hopping on stage to add two tickets to the auction for NBA playoff game four between the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. Wilkins, who partners with Wellstar as a health ambassador, also shared impassioned words on destigmatizing mental health and how it has impacted his own family.
This message was echoed by Wellstar physician leaders Dr. Ryan Breshears, Chief Behavioral Health Officer, and Dr. Avril Beckford, Chief Pediatric Officer, who have witnessed firsthand the concerning rates of substance use, anxiety, depression and suicide among adults and youth rapidly increase throughout the pandemic.
Julie Teer, Wellstar Foundation President, said, “The Gala was a monumental step in helping our Wellstar Foundation bolster collaboration among healthcare workers, community providers, and private and public sectors to enhance the well-being of every community we serve; this includes a pivotal philanthropic focus on behavioral health which is needed now more than ever. Caring for one-in-six Georgians, Wellstar is not only uniquely positioned but committed to transforming healthcare for everyone in Georgia through corporate and community partnership.”
Kim Gresh, Owner and President of S.A. White Oil Company, Inc., was celebrated as Philanthropist of the Year and David Bottoms, President at The Bottoms Group and Chair of the Wellstar Foundation Board of Trustees, was presented with the Exemplary Service Award.
As one of the largest and most integrated not-for-profit health systems in Georgia, Wellstar is the state’s largest safety net health system and was recently ranked among Modern Healthcare’s top 10 providers for charity care in the nation. 100% of Gala proceeds support Wellstar’s commitment to expand behavioral health services across its 11 hospitals and every community it serves. To make a tax-deductible donation or for information on future Foundation events and corporate partnerships, visit wellstar.org/foundation.