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Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, November 19, 2004

John Akouri Emcees Successful 13th Annual St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Benefit

- 2004 Gala Event raises over $50,000 for Children-
(MICHIGAN)...Farmington Hills City Councilman John Akouri and world-famous entertainer Princess Madiha hosted a dance workshop and dinner concert event to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on November 13 at Farmington Hills Manor in Farmington Hills. Over 500 patrons were in attendance at the event and this year’s benefit raised over $50,000, bringing the total proceeds raised in excess of $250,000.

The event began in the morning with a dance workshop from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Those interested in this workshop registered that morning on location at 8 a.m. Tickets were $60 each. Princess Madiha and special guest instructor, Aida al-Adawi of San Francisco, California, was the dance instructor.

Saturday evening at 7 p.m. the doors opened for the benefit concert and dinner began at 8 p.m. Tickets for the evening event were $55 each in advance and $60 at the door. The ladies who participated in the day's dance workshop performed live ethnic dancing for the dinner guests. The ticket price for the evening event included a full-course, family-style Middle Eastern dinner, ethnic entertainment and live music. Special guests and raffle prizes completed the evening. Topping the $250,000 fundraising mark since this event’s inception in 1991 - as always, all proceeds from the annual Princess Madiha Event will go directly to St. Jude Hospital.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was founded by the late Lebanese-American entertainer Danny Thomas and opened in 1962. The American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) covers all costs of care beyond those reimbursable by third party payments and total costs when no insurance is available. The hospital is supported primarily by funds from volunteer contributions raised by ALSAC. Danny Thomas established the national fund-raising organization expressly for the purpose of funding St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. St. Jude also receives assistance from federal grants (mainly through the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute), insurance and investments.

It is well known that Danny Thomas dreamed of seeing a branch of St. Jude established in the land of his ancestors, a country he loved and visited many times. Situated in the heart of Beirut, the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL) was dedicated on April 12, 2002. The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Rafic Harriri; Her Royal Highness Princess Ghida Tatal (Chairperson of Al-Amal Foundation in Amman, Jordan); and several members of the Lebanese cabinet and Parliament joined a delegation from ALSAC/St. Jude for the dedication ceremony. More than 300 people, including parents and families of Lebanese children treated at St. Jude, witnessed this remarkable event that serves as the result of collaboration between St. Jude/ALSAC, American University of Beirut (AUB) Medical Center, and the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon Foundation.

Across the Middle East, the International Outreach Project sponsors training at St. Jude for physicians, nurses, and technologists from medical institutions in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Morocco. St. Jude’s collaboration with the King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC, formerly known as Al Amal Center) in Amman, Jordan, continues in its effort to improve care for Jordanian children with cancer. As part of a regional collaboration, nurses from Jordan have received training at the newly established pediatric cancer center in Beirut. Today, the Syrian Ministry of Health has requested the assistance of International Outreach in establishing a pediatric unit in a comprehensive cancer center now under construction in Aleppo. A plan of action and a timetable are being formulated, and an exploratory site visit is planned.

Mr. Akouri began serving as master of ceremonies for the annual benefit in 1994 and continued to do so during his appointment on Capitol Hill as Washington Press Secretary and Senior Advisor to US Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI). In his capacity as spokesman for the Congressman, he worked daily with both the International & National press corps. Mr. Akouri also participated in high-level talks on a wide range of initiatives regarding Lebanon during meetings with key Lebanese leaders that included: H.E. Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Cardinal Sfeir, Ambassador to the US, Hon. Farid Abboud, General Michel Aoun, and American University of Beirut President John Waterbury.

In November 2003, Mr. Akouri ran a successful first time campaign for City Council in Farmington Hills, Michigan and was elected as the city’s first American-born Lebanese Councilman coming in as top vote getter. The youngest Member on Council, Akouri is extremely proud of his personal background and heritage as an American of Lebanese descent, and the accomplishments the Lebanese American community has achieved here in the United States. His family originally hails from the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon where he plans to visit next summer.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and is one of the world's premier centers for research and treatment of catastrophic diseases in children, primarily pediatric cancers. More than 4,000 patients are seen at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital yearly, most of whom are treated on a continuing outpatient basis. To date, St. Jude Hospital has treated 16,000 children from across the United States.

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