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Hosted by Jon Voight


Immediate Release (November 20, 2015, New York) – On Monday, November 23rd, Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl (CCOC), a nonprofit lead by Nancy Spielberg, Founding Board Member and sister of director Steven Spielberg, and chaired by legendary actor Jon Voight, will host their annual Children at Heart gala dinner and celebrity auction.  The annual gala will celebrate CCOC’s 25th Anniversary and the completion of the 100th rescue flight that brought 15 children from the still contaminated regions surrounding Chernobyl, and will raise funds for next year’s flight as well as for on-the-ground medical support for families who can not leave due to the current political volatility in the Ukraine and surrounding region.

CCOC is supported by New York’s most notable business leaders such as Jody Durst, Elie Tahari and Lawrence Benenson; past events have hosted Matt Damon, Steven Spielberg, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Kirk and Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones,, Whoopi Goldberg, Jesse Eisenberg, Donald and Ivanka Trump, Dakota and Elle Fanning, Jeremy Piven, Kiefer Sutherland, Kelsey Grammer, Heidi Klum, Pierce Brosnan, Judge Judy Sheindlin, Edie Falco, and more. This year’s gala is themed Lightswhich represent the 2,878 children that they have rescued to date who have in turn brought light into the world around them.  The evening will include the notable silent and live auction, the awarding of Jon Voight for his 20 years of dedication to the mission, and will be attended by Stephanie March, Elie Tahari, Bret Lockett, Leon McFadden, and others who will be announced prior to the event. There will also be a performance from Broadway’s The Gazillion Bubble Show as well as America’s Got Talent finalist, Oz Pearlman (mentalist and magician).


“Thousands of children every day are still feeling the tragic consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. They are facing devastating illnesses from radiation contamination — radiation that will be with us for thousands of years.”                                                              – Nancy Spielberg


The world marked the 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion this year but still, to this day, thousands of children living in range of the reactor show signs of health issues including thyroid cancer, leukemia and heart maladies. Fractures in the reactor’s walls and the still high level of radioactive topsoil in the “dead zone” have continued to leak radiation into the water, soil and food in the still inhabited regions of Ukraine and Belarus. The disaster’s hardest hit victims are young children whose bodies are highly susceptible to the damage caused by the contamination of their food and water. The rate of pediatric cancer in these regions even today is still 200 times the world norm.  The rate of Thyroid Cancer in the aria across all ages is 400 times the world norm, according to the World Health Organization.

To date, CCOC has saved 2,878 children on 100 rescue flights. CCOC provides them with medical care, counseling, housing, education, clothing, and extracurricular activities to ensure a complete recovery for each child.  As there are many children who are unable to evacuate the Chernobyl region for political or economical issues, CCOC sends the much-needed medicine, medical equipment, therapeutic aids and other necessary supplies to the contaminated area. Furthermore, the organization has trained local physicians to treat radiation-induced illnesses and has built a mammography clinic to help combat the astronomically high rates of breast cancer in the area.


 “I was only 10 years and I still remember everything, my first days, the unbelievable experience, it felt like heaven. I felt so much freedom and I felt so much safety in this moment.”

– Galya, CCOC Alumn


The goal for the Children at Heart Gala Dinner and Celebrity Fantasy Auction is to raise the necessary funds to continue to rescue, help and properly support the children living in the affected Chernobyl regions today. The cost of evacuating a flight of children is approximately $360,000 and expenses per child for one year are $18,000+. With the gracious support of corporations, brands and hospitality groups, the annual galas have raised millions of dollars to date and this year’s auction is just as impressive, featuring the following notable items but there are dozens more on


  • Radiant Diamond Necklace valued at $82,000
  • Halekulani and Hawaiian Airlines Vacation
  • Jacob & Co. Women’s Watch
  • 2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750 bike
  • Electric Guitars autographed by Rock-Legends as Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, U2, the Eagles and Acoustic Guitar signed by Taylor Swift
  • 10 seat dinner or lunch and shopping spree with Elie Tahari
  • Vacation packages from JetBlue Airways                                          … and many more!


CCOC’s rescue flights and programs are fully funded by donations. For more information about the organization and its programs, visit or call (212) 681-7800. For more about the Children at Heart Gala Dinner & Celebrity Fantasy Auction, visit


“Children living within 75 miles of where the disaster happened will either get sick or pass it on. People have to be aware it doesn’t go away, and that these children need to be relocated so they are no longer exposed to Chernobyl’s life-threatening conditions.”

  – Esti Herman, Executive Director of CCOC




Rachel Fertel
Director of Special Events
Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl (CCOC)


Glenn Johnson
ICONS Marketing + Media