“Back and Better Than Ever!”

Saratoga Hospital Gala (“School Spirit”) Benefits Saratoga Community Health Center

Note: See Update at the End after the Gallery

SARATOGA SPRINGS – This always well-attended event has the values of loyalty and commitment at its core. The oft-used expression: ‘Be True to Your School’ is just as appropriate to describe the previous 38 iterations of the Saratoga Hospital Gala, as ‘School Spirit’ is to describe this 39th edition, which was held last Wednesday, August 4 on the grounds of Saratoga Casino Hotel.

In this case, the ‘school’ is not some educational campus, but rather a school of thought. A belief that, by our support, we are supporting our neighbors, our families, ourselves. Of all the galas in a Saratoga season, this is the one for the locals.

One can imagine that if there were no track, no SPAC, no yearling sales or any of the international tourist attractions that we are blessed to have, there would still be the Saratoga Hospital Gala, as supported as ever. After all, even though the live auction is entertaining (Chris Ward did his usual fine job) its not like people come for the great band (there is none) or to dance the night away (nope.) It is however, a superior food event, thanks to the fantastic cuisine provided by the crew from Morton’s and the Saratoga Casino Hotel.

And even if beef is not your thing, I heard people rave about the salmon and shrimp, as well as the strawberry salad. All of which appear in the gallery which follows, in addition to a slew of well-fed, happy people.

Presented by Julie & Co. Realty, LLC, and Bonacio Construction Inc., the fundraiser supports high-quality, affordable healthcare by benefiting the hospital’s Saratoga Community Health Center. This was Julie Bonacio’s fifth time co-chairing the event. This year she was joined by Co-chair Aimee Dake and longtime Honorary Chair John Hendrickson.

“The impact of the Gala is immeasurable,” said Dr. Renée Rodriguez-Goodemote, medical director, Saratoga Community Health Center. “Everyone involved with this event—sponsors, auction donors, volunteers and guests—touches the lives of our patients and improves the health of our community as a whole.”

Before we get to the gallery, permit me to plagiarize myself and re-tell a story that I first wrote about the 2019 Hospital Gala, because I believe it tells the tale and sums things up nicely:

In 2015, I landed what we in the reporter biz call: “A great ‘Get’”… an exclusive interview with a superior individual, who rarely did interviews.

That man was Dr. Desmond DelGiacco. His name is one of two which appear atop Saratoga Hospital’s $10 million Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The other name? Marylou Whitney.

At the time of the interview, the beloved caregiver – “Dr. Del” – had been at Saratoga Hospital since 1981, had seen all the growth, and had done much to help steward it. As I greeted him as he arrived at the Polo Meadow on Wednesday, {{of 2019}} I was once again reminded about a simple quote from that interview.

He was discussing the macro-economic trends (Corporate Healthcare, Big HMO’s and Insurance providers) that were driving many Community Hospitals from the American landscape:

“But this community is different.” Dr. DelGiacco said, “It stepped up to support the Board and executive management. This community said it wanted an excellent hospital; it expects an excellent hospital.”

“And now they have an excellent hospital.”

Getting from the ‘wanting’ and the ‘expecting’ to the ‘having’ is the result of the combined efforts of many people ‘doing’ – or perhaps, DOING! Doing many little things that add up to big ones. and honoring the people who helped get you there.


This post, like the others about Saratoga Hospital’s Galas, is offered as a salute to all everyone’s efforts. It will be updated to report on the total funds raised tonight, which I expect to be staggering. In the meantime, enjoy this gallery.

Arthur Gonick – August 9, 2021

Gallery: School Spirit – The Saratoga Hospital Gala

UPDATE: August 13, 2021:

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Hospital’s 39th Annual Gala raised $360,292 for the hospital’s Saratoga Community Health Center

The results, the fourth highest in Gala history, reflect the community’s commitment to the Community Health Center and the high-quality, affordable care the center provides. Presented by Julie & Co. Realty, LLC, and Bonacio Construction Inc., the Aug 4 event featured a “school spirit” theme and more than 100 enticing auction items. Donors supported the Gala—and the work of the Community Health Center—via in-person and mobile bidding. 

The only facility of its kind in greater Saratoga, the center provides primary care, dental, behavioral health and addiction medicine services to patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Demand for care continues to grow, resulting in more than 25,000 patient visits each year. 

“Before our Community Health Center, many patients didn’t have access to affordable primary care or dental care,” said Mary Solomons, executive director, Saratoga Hospital Foundation. “Now, for the first time, these patients are receiving the routine healthcare and preventive services that make a dramatic difference in quality of health and life. 

“That resonates with our donors, who have given generously both to help create the Community Health Center and sustain it year after year,” she added. 

Solomons credited sponsors, underwriters, donors and the all-volunteer Gala Committee, led by Co-chairs Julie Bonacio and Aimee Dake, for the fundraiser’s success. Solomons also gave a shout-out to Saratoga Hospital employees who volunteered at the event. “It truly is a team effort—for an amazing cause,” she said.

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