If you walked into the Balboa Beach Club in Newport Beach, Calif., on June 1, you just might think you were at a multifamily industry conference. But heavy hitters such as Michael Hayde of Western National Group and Bill Gaboury, formerly of Shea Properties, weren't there to discuss business. They took part in the sixth annual Natalie's Wish fundraising dinner, which generated $2.1 million for the Cystinosis Research Foundation.
The fundraiser was organized by Jeff Stack, principal and managing partner of the Irvine, Calif.-based Sares-Regis Group, and his wife, Nancy. The couple—parents of 16-year-old Natalie, who was diagnosed with cystinosis as an infant—started the foundation in 2003 and have raised $6.2 million to fund medical and scientific research for a cure. This year's event drew 460 people and featured a keynote address from football hall-of-fame quarterback Jim Kelly.
The multifamily industry has been an avid supporter of the cause from day one. Why? “We all know Jeff, now we know Natalie, and as we invite friends from the industry to get to know the family, the simple answer is it's personal,” says Hayde, CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Western National Group.
Cystinosis is a metabolic disease that slowly destroys organs in the body and afflicts about 500 people in the United States. The next fundraiser is a golf tournament on Oct. 1 in Orange County, Calif. For more information, visit www.natalieswish.org.