PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Hasbro Children’s Hospital’s biggest fundraiser of the year will not be held in 2020 due to continuing concerns about the coronavirus, organizers announced Thursday.
Originally scheduled for March 7, organizers earlier that week said the black-tie gala would be postponed until August. But since its venue, the R.I. Convention Center, has been turned into a field hospital to treat the anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients, they made the “difficult decision” to cancel the event outright.
“The COVID-19 crisis has placed an unprecedented set of demands on Lifespan, the state, our employees, and our patients,” Lifespan President and CEO Timothy Babineau said in a statement. “Additionally, it seems unlikely at this point that any large-scale gatherings will be allowed in Rhode Island over the next several months.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced during her daily COVID-19 briefing that large events like concerts, parades and big weddings won’t be feasible in Rhode Island this summer.
“In good conscience, I cannot stand here and tell you that you’re going to be able to have those events in June, in July, in August, the way you hoped to have,” Raimondo said, adding glumly, “My stomach is in a knot.”
The Heroes Ball is an important fundraiser for the hospital and its affiliates. Last year’s ball raised more than $1 million for hospital programs.
“Having to cancel the signature fundraising event that has become a critical element of our efforts to support children and their families during times of illness was a very difficult decision. However, nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our community,” Babineau wrote. “Also, I could not be more proud of the heroic work of all our health care workers during this unprecedented crisis.”
“Although we will not be having a Heroes Ball this year, Hasbro Children’s Hospital needs its supporters more than ever and I look forward to the community continuing to find ways to show its support absent the Ball,” he continued.
Babineau asked attendees to consider re-designating ticket purchases and sponsorship gifts to a charitable donation in support of the hospital’s needs.
WPRI 12 and Fox Providence are proud sponsors of the Heroes Ball.