Lending Hands

Wendy Bowman and Allison Mitchell | October 24, 2018 | Feature Features National

For these O.C. philanthropists, giving back is woven into the fiber of their very being, whether they're leading the charge alone or rallying the entire family. Here, how they'll change our community and beyond.

The John Wayne Cancer Foundation strives to make an impact on the fight against cancer in memory of “The Duke.”

Hollywood legend and Newport Beach resident John Wayne beat lung cancer in 1964 only to pass away 15 years later after a struggle with stomach cancer. During this difficult time, he garnered a passion for helping others fight the disease. To continue Wayne’s legacy, his family created the John Wayne Cancer Foundation in 1985 to bring courage, strength—and, of course, “grit”—to the fight against cancer. “My father committed his name and likeness to helping people, and we aim to do just that,” says Ethan Wayne, president of John Wayne Enterprises who also serves as the foundation’s director. Among the foundation’s contributions: the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, where researchers work daily in the latest genomic and immunotherapeutic sciences to find a cure for cancer, as well as cancer screenings and prevention (with the foundation funding one of the world’s largest melanoma specimen repositories). The foundation also supports a network of over 150 institute-trained John Wayne alumni fellows via research grants peer-reviewed by the Society of Surgical Oncology. Ethan’s sister, GritCycle co-founder Marisa Wayne, also holds an annual Gritty Up two-day fundraising event for the foundation that has raised more than $1 million in the past five years. “My father came from very humble beginnings, and he understood what it was like to not have,” says Ethan. “He has always helped people in small and large ways.”

Main image, from left: Molly Rigdon and Cita Graber, granddaughters of John Wayne; with Marisa Wayne, daughter of John Wayne, and her son Duke Ditteaux; and Ethan Wayne, son of John Wayne.

The owners of Lugano Diamonds are real gems when it comes to giving back to the community.

If you’ve attended a charity soiree in O.C., you’ve likely seen exquisite bespoke jewelry from Newport Beach-based Lugano Diamonds, whether it’s being worn by a local socialite or raffled off to raise funds. CEO and Design Director Moti Ferder and wife Idit—she’s the COO—regularly donate thousands, if not millions, of dollars in funds and jewelry annually to local and national nonprofits. Among them: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, JDRF, Jewish Federation, Tahirih Justice Center, and Orangewood and Irvine public schools foundations, just to name a few. “Growing up, we were taught that we are a part of the whole and as such are responsible for our community,” says Moti. “We raise our family and run our company with that in mind.” The pair volunteer their time as well, both serving as co-chairs for numerous galas, and Moti as a board member of the American Film Institute and Segerstrom Center (with the Center doling upon him its Distinguished Leader Award in June). “There are so many great causes, but Idit and I really love the arts, and particularly value what Segerstrom does for our community,” says Moti. Up next: They’ll provide support to Segerstrom’s beloved Candlelight Concert Nov. 30, where Earth, Wind & Fire will take the stage.


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