WildAid announced it raised $2.5 million at its annual fundraising gala, “An Evening in China,” on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. Sponsored by Bently Heritage Estate Distillery, the gala is the organization’s largest fundraising event. Danai Gurira and Bryce Dallas Howard were honored as this year’s Wildlife Champions for their partnerships with WildAid for PSAs in support of the organization’s message, “When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.”
Gurira was in attendance to accept her award and spoke of her childhood growing up in Zimbabwe and her deep connection to wildlife from a young age.
“I got to spend time with the astounding wildlife of my nation for the first time in the second grade…I was enamored and have remained so,” Gurira said before condemning the world’s treatment of its majestic creatures. “It was recently stated that humanity has wiped out 60 percent of wildlife since the 1970s. The problem is dire, and it is devastating, and it is urgent.”
Howard was unable to attend but accepted her award via video, referencing her unforgettable experience of coming face-to-face with an elephant for the first time at 11 years old in Botswana.
The charitable evening brought out celebrities, including Josh Duhamel, Michael Cudlitz, Kevin Olusola, Bo Derek, Maggie Q, Dylan McDermott, Eli Roth, Jasper Pääkkönen, Diane Warren and more. Grammy Award-winner David Foster provided the musical entertainment with special guest performances from Pia Toscano and Sheléa, who collectively paid tribute to iconic singers Celine Dionand Whitney Houston. Singer/songwriter Jessi Collins also joined Foster on stage to perform an original Warren song, “I’ll Fight,” an ode to Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“An Evening in China” featured a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception with silent and live auctions. Guests enjoyed a three-course vegan dinner by celebrity Master Chef Martin Yan. In addition to main sponsor Bently Heritage Estate Distillery, additional sponsorship was provided by PALETTERA, Nellcôte Winery, Yao Family Wines, Dunstan Wines – Durell Vineyard, Sea Smoke, Chateau Boswell Winery and Melka Estates & Winery.
WildAid produces impactful, compelling public service announcements that are Hollywood quality and distributes them to millions of viewers a week through pro bono media placement. WildAid’s campaigns have contributed to an 80 percent reduction in shark fin imports to China, a ban on ivory sales in China, and a 50 percent drop in the price of rhino horn in China and Vietnam.
WildAid is the only nonprofit group that focuses exclusively on reducing demand for illegal wildlife products through public awareness campaigns. With the simple message “When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too,” WildAid works with government, business and media partners as well as celebrities and high profile individuals to advocate consumer change.