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Hartford, Conn.—Hartford HealthCare’s premier event, the 31st Annual Black & Red, was a stunning success as the sold-out philanthropic gala returned to downtown Hartford on Saturday, April 22nd, and broke its previous fundraising record by generating $2.5 million. The net proceeds from the event will benefit the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital and its Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center and create more access to cancer screenings for underserved and underinsured populations in the community.

Bimal Patel, president of Hartford Hospital & Hartford Region and SVP, Hartford HealthCare, kicked off the presentation and entertainment portion of the evening by welcoming and thanking attendees before recognizing 25 Hartford Hospital Heroes in the audience who were selected by their peers for going above the call of duty.

“Thanks to your attendance here tonight, the support of our Black & Red sponsors, and the generosity of our valued donors, I can announce that we have collectively raised $2.5 million for the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital and its Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center—a new Black & Red fundraising record,” Patel shared with the applauding audience. “This funding will help us in continuing to provide cancer patients and their families with the highest level of care, comfort, research, and technology for decades to come.”

After appearing onstage to the hit song “Whatever It Takes” by Imagine Dragons, Jeffrey A. Flaks, president & CEO of Hartford HealthCare, shared how special it was for the event to return to downtown Hartford and thanked his colleagues for doing “whatever it takes” to meet Hartford HealthCare’s mission to create a better future for healthcare in Connecticut.

Flaks then inaugurated a new Hartford Hospital tradition by announcing the presentation of the Hospital’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award to Andrew L. Salner, MD, FACR, FASTRO— a practicing radiation oncologist who serves as the Medical Director of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital and its Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Center.

“Dr. Andy Salner has defined the culture of our cancer institute for decades and his contributions are almost impossible to fully imagine unless you have been here to see them,” shared Flaks while honoring Dr. Salner with the Hartford Hospital Lifetime Achievement Award. “Dr. Salner was at the forefront of health equity and has brought world-renown capabilities to Hartford Hospital. He has been a role model to me and so many others in our institution—if you had to create a Mount Rushmore for Hartford Hospital, Dr. Salner would certainly be one of the first individuals to consider.”

This year’s Black & Red marked the first time the event returned to its traditional venue—The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts—since 2020. The annual gala has raised nearly $30 million for Hartford Hospital and its community programs and services since the event’s inception in 1992.

Lynn B. Rossini, vice president of Philanthropy, Hartford Hospital and Charlotte Hungerford Hospital said, “We are grateful for the leadership of Black & Red’s honorary event chairs, Sheila and Doug Elliot; and our committee co-chairs, Mayor Shari and Michael Cantor and Alexia Cruz and Jon Brighthaupt; and our dedicated volunteers who care deeply about providing access to cancer prevention and treatment to the Greater Hartford Region. Their dedication to Hartford Hospital will enable us to care for the whole person and meet them where they are so that life during treatment and after cancer continues to be rich and rewarding.”

Alternative-rock legends the Goo Goo Dolls provided the evening’s musical entertainment. Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik surprised patients at Hartford Hospital with an impromptu performance before heading to his Black & Red concert down the road at The Bushnell.

A date and venue for the 32nd Annual Black & Red is expected to be announced in early 2024.