Hoag gets a little help from its friends
Hoag Hospital Foundation

It had all the ambience of Rick's Cafe.

A white piano sat in stark contrast inside a sparsely lit room. People were lounging around, sipping cocktails and eating appetizers.

Only this wasn't the 1940s Casablanca in French-ruled Morocco. It was all part of Hoag Hospital Foundation's 552 Club's annual Summer Movie Classic charity event.

Held for the first time at the Orange County fairgrounds hangar in Costa Mesa, more than 1,000 people attended Wednesday's charity event, which included a screening of one of the biggest movie classics, "Casablanca."

Last year's 552 Club summer movie screening raised $170,000 for Hoag Hospital Newport Beach and Hoag Hospital Irvine, said Stacy Hunt, director of events for Hoag. This year, 552 Club officials hope to surpass that figure.

"Right now, I'm thinking we're going to probably raise more than $200,000 from this event," said J. Brian Horn, co-event chairman and a director for the 552 Club.

The exact dollar amount won't be known until at least a few days after the event, said Cara Uisprapassorn, donor relations manager for Hoag Hospital Foundation.

The 552 Club is the foundation's community-based support group. It was founded in 1966 when a group organized to raise money to add 552 beds at Hoag.

Since then, the 552 Club has been an important part of Hoag Hospital and its foundation. The 552 Club started the summer movie screening in 1988 and has raised more than $1.4 million for Hoag, according to Hunt.

"These are my friends and family," said Horn, who was wearing a white jacket, black slacks, bow tie and fedora, a la Humphrey Bogart.

The charity event came a week after abortion-rights supporters and abortion opponents protested in front of Hoag Hospital Newport Beach over Hoag Hospital's board of directors' recent decision to ban elective abortions. There were no signs of residual effect from the protest.

Most Hoag officials and community members didn't want to discuss the issue.

"We're not even going to touch that subject," Flynn A. Andrizzi, president of Hoag Hospital Foundation, said. "Tonight, it is all about this event and raising money for Hoag."

"I don't even consider this a fundraiser," Andrizzi said. "This is more like a friend-raiser."

For 91-year-old Eleanor Schmidt of Corona del Mar, the charity event is about having fun and wining and dining with friends. She has attended the screening from its inception.

"I haven't missed one since they started doing this," Schmidt said. "I come every year. It's a lot of fun."

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