At the sixth biennial UNICEF Ball, hosted at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Tuesday night, over 700 guests — including Selena Gomez, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Connelly, Camilla Belle, Miranda Kerr and Jesse Metcalfe — gathered to support the organization’s efforts to better the lives of underprivileged children.
The black-tie fundraising gala, which was emceed by “Rizzoli & Isles” actress and two-year UNICEF ambassador Angie Harmon, honored 11-year UNICEF ambassador David Beckham with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award for his longtime dedication to the organization. To celebrate his tenth anniversary as an ambassador, Beckham launched “7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund” to protect and advocate for disadvantaged children around the world. He’s also brought awareness to his cause through “David Beckham: For the Love of the Game,” a 2015 documentary film that follows the athlete as he journeys through seven continents and connects with impoverished locals through the game of soccer.
“When you’re part of an organization that really does do so much, you’re very humbled with nights like this,” Beckham told Variety before the event. “I feel very honored to be part of it and very honored to be receiving this award.”
The ball commenced with performances by pop vocal group The Company Men and Grammy Award-winning vocalist Mariah Carey, who gave special performances of her classics “Always Be My Baby,” “We Belong Together” and “Hero,” which she included in the set to honor UNICEF.
Also in attendance at the event were UNICEF supporters Heidi Klum and Alyssa Milano, both of whom have participated in UNICEF field visits since becoming involved with the organization.
“It’s not only important helping [the children] in terms of medicine, books or clothes, but it’s educating the people so that when you leave they can help themselves,” said Klum.
“This is always a very special night to raise awareness and get out there and spread the word,” added Milano, who was appointed a UNICEF ambassador in 2003. Since becoming involved with the organization over a decade ago, she’s witnessed the child mortality rate decrease.
“The fact that more children are living past the age of five since I first started is pretty insane,” said Milano. “Anytime that you hear these statistics about how we’ve come so far with Malaria and HIV mother-to-child transmission, we have to remember that UNICEF is always in the field doing that work.”
Following a live auction that raised money for UNICEF field vehicles, food, community water pumps and school supplies, singer-songwriter legend Elton John took to the stage alongside husband David Furnish to present Beckham with his UNICEF award.
“I know this town is obsessed with blockbuster superheroes, but tonight we’re honoring someone I know to be a bona fide hero,” said John, before welcoming the soccer star to the stage.
“These events are important, but what’s more important about these events is what comes from these events,” said Beckham while accepting his award. “This is where money is raised, and this is where a light is shown on the most difficult circumstances that happen in our lifetime.”
Also being honored at the gala event was USC president C.L. Max Nikias, who received the spirit of compassion award for his work with children.
“We may not be able to predict the future, but we can create one,” said Nikias. He continued, “A dream of hope becomes a dream realized. It’s a profound honor for me and my university to be part of this dream.”