Jimmy and Joi Horowitz were vacationing in Lake Tahoe when Joi went into labor three months prematurely. She was rushed by ambulance to Reno, where she gave birth to Jordan only 26 weeks into her 40-week term.
“Three days into her hospital stay, (Joi) developed an infection and then Jordan was delivered on the spot by a doctor who we had never even met,” said Jimmy Horowitz, who is now president of Universal Pictures. “He walked in and said, ‘You’re having the baby right now.’ ”
The family stayed at the hospital for almost four months before their daughter was able to breathe on her own and they were all able to return home to Los Angeles.
Now, 15 years later, Jordan is the country’s top youth fundraiser for the March of Dimes’ annual charity walk, March for Babies. The money that Jordan’s Team and other March for Babies participants raise helps fund community outreach programs for mothers, and supports the org’s research into reducing infant mortality and preventing and treating birth defects and premature births.
“The reason I do it every year is because not only have I enjoyed it in the past, but seeing what my family went through and what my parents had to deal with just motivates me to,” Jordan said. “I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.”
Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes in 1938, the charity has garnered support from some of Tinseltown’s biggest names, including Grace Kelly, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. After meeting its goal to combat polio, the org now works to improve the health of mothers and babies.
“The main reason for bringing me on was to try and bring back the connection between March of Dimes and Hollywood, because it had really been lost over the years, and other nonprofits had taken its place as the premiere nonprofit for the industry,” said Jimmy Horowitz, who serves on the California chapter’s board and co-chairs, with Joi, the annual Celebration of Babies luncheon.
This year’s event, Dec. 6 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, fetes Jennifer Lopez with the Grace Kelly Award and names A&E Networks president-CEO Nancy Dubuc the Inspiring Woman of the Year. Lopez was the honorary chair of 2009’s March for Babies in Miami.
When the Horowitzes took the reins of the fundraiser, they said their goal was to turn Celebration of Babies “back into an event that celebrates motherhood in the industry.” Having last year raised more than $1 million — the event’s highest sum to date — and regularly attracting Hollywood heavyweights, it’s safe to say the family has accomplished its mission.
(Pictured: Joi and Jimmy Horowitz flank their daughter, Jordan, who was the inspiration for embracing fund-raising efforts for the March of Dimes.)