AP NEWS

Red Cross to honor Greenwich filmmaker Ron Howard at ball

March 26, 2019

GREENWICH — The American Red Cross is there for people when they are in need. Now, the organization is hoping Greenwich residents will be there for them.

The Red and White Ball, a benefit gala set for April 27 at the Net Jets Hangar at Westchester County Airport, is the main source of funding for the American Red Cross in the Metro New York North region. Its headquarters is in Cos Cob, and one of Greenwich’s own will receive a high honor at the ball.

Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard, a longtime town resident, will receive the American Red Cross Humanitarian Award for his support of the organization and his work benefiting others. His newest project is a documentary about the devastating and deadly California wildfires late last year.

Howard is adding star power to the ball, which the main goal is to get critical public support for the emergency response work of the Red Cross.

“This is our only fundraiser for the region we serve,” said Mary Young, CEO of the chapter. “This is a very big deal for us. It allows us to continue the work we do — day in and day out. It’s our signature event.”

The ball has been held locally for 34 years.

“It’s really remarkable how much support we’ve gotten locally,” Young said. In addition to financial support, Greenwich residents have a long tradition of volunteering and donating at blood drives.

In addition to Greenwich, the Metro New York North region covers Westchester, Rockland, Sullivan, Putnam and Orange counties in New York. A lot of work goes on at the Cos Cob location to make sure people are deployed through the vast area to help after hurricanes, floods and fires.

The Red Cross has long wanted to honor Howard, but Young said the filmmaker has been to humble to accept. For years, Howard has supported the work of the emergency response organization.

The award is fitting this year as Howard focuses on the emergency created by last year’s vast wildfires, particularly on the California community of Paradise. He has been personally chronicling the story since last year as part of his next documentary project.

Young said that was in addition to other ways Howard has supported the American Red Cross’ mission. “I don’t think that many people would give of their time like that,” she said.

Also, the American Red Cross will give its Excellence in Service award to Victor Prato, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army who was wounded in Afghanistan and received a Purple Heart for his service.

Despite his injuries, which have left him as a quadriplegic, Prato is still active in the military and is dedicated to walking again, Young said. He can take some steps and is able to drive. And Prato is furthering his education with a goal of becoming an investment banker.

“We always look to have a hero come and be a part of this event,” Young said. ’When you hear Victor’s story, you will see how amazing he is. His fellow soldiers would come to visit him when he was at Walter Reed to cheer him up and he would end up cheering them up. He is a remarkable man.”

Television journalist, host and legal analyst Ashleigh Banfield will serve as emcee for the ball.

The Red and White Ball will begin with cocktails at 6 p.m. at the hangar. That will be followed by dinner, the awards program and dancing.

Ball attendees can also take part in a silent and a live auction. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://rdcrss.org/2FyL6Np.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com