The iconic Santa Monica Pier is home to many an event each year. But the one that means the most to the patients at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA is the Mattel Party on the Pier, an event that funds programming and research at the facility.

And this Sunday the party hits the pier for the 16th year in a row.

Sponsored by Mattel, Inc. and held at Pacific Park, the event is geared mainly toward the hospital’s patients and their families. The day includes unlimited rides, arts and crafts and photo-ops with Barbie.

Guests can enjoy unlimited carnival games but they won’t win the usual prizes. Instead, the booths are actually stocked with toys donated by Mattel.

Guests can expect autographs from celebrity guests like the event’s host, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the hospital’s “Doctor of Joy” honoree, director and “The Simpsons” animator David Silverman.

Gellar and Silverman are both excited to help out in any way they can this Sunday, with support of the hospital being at the forefront of their minds.

“I am fortunate enough to have two healthy children, but I know that can change in a moment,” Gellar said in an email. “The care and love that I see at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, makes all the difference to families with sick kids. So the second they asked if I could help out with their fundraising event, I jumped at the chance. Having spent time both with the caregivers and the families and the children at the hospital, I am constantly in awe.”

Silverman, a UCLA alumnus, will be honored as “Doctor of Joy” and given a white coat on the day of the event to recognize his support of the event personally, and through his connections, to help increase funding and awareness. But the award is also being bestowed upon Silverman to thank him for the joy he spread during his recent visit to the hospital during which he spent time drawing “Simpsons” characters for the patients.

“I’ve been drawing for many, many people and the ‘Simpsons’ drawings were awesome to do,” Silverman said. “It was a very gratifying thing to do ‚Ķ I ask the physicians what to expect. So knowing that I’m able to know what to do and what to say. It’s fine really. I just enjoy talking with them and asking what they would like me to draw.”

Silverman is also happy to become the hospital’s “Doctor of Joy.”

“I try to live in a state of joy as much as possible. If I can be ‘Doctor of Joy’ that’s fine by me. I don’t think I’ll be practicing much medicine though.”

The hospital originally chose the Pier for the event because they believe it to be the ideal fit for their brand.

“I think the location really allows us to highlight being very iconic and a leading hospital based in Los Angeles,” Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA spokesperson Danielle Dietz said. “Because Santa Monica is so iconic, and the Pier, and also because we have such a great partnership with Pacific Park ‚Ķ they have worked with us to continue its existence. They give us really the best opportunity to reach the people we serve.”

Gellar believes the Pier is a great location for the event because of what it can offer the young patients.

“The Santa Monica Pier is every kid’s dream place. For the kids and their families that can attend, it is such a welcome relief to what they experience on a daily basis. It really is a magical event. Between the rides and the Mattel toys you win at the games, even the adults feel like a kid for the day,” she said.

Stepping away from the fun and games in the park, guests will find a silent auction area compliments of Toys ‘R Us which will feature items including, “Dodger dugout seats; private catered dinners; tickets to the Jennifer Lopez show in Las Vegas; a Deer Valley getaway; movie premiere tickets; and a 1 year subscription to Foodstirs,” a kid-friendly line of baking and decorating kits created by Gellar and launching this October, according to a Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA press release. The Foodstirs silent auction item will include the opportunity to star in a commercial with Gellar. Bidding on this year’s items takes place through Charitybuzz and GiveSmart at www.partyonthepier.ucla.edu/auction.html.

The event will boast a Dodger-themed VIP area courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, with lunch donated by Wolfgang Puck Catering.

YourBASH!, a Santa Monica-based company credited with planning this year’s Emmys Awards’ red carpet, is now gearing up to throw the Party on the Pier for the second year in a row.

“It’s getting bigger and better every year,” said co-owner of YourBASH Jaime Geffen. “Last year was the first year we went into the parking lot to allow for more space and more sponsorship. [This year] we have tons of amazing auction items. Lots of sponsored items, vacations and trips. Year-after-year people keep coming back for the fun opportunity to ride the rides. And with the money raised for the hospital it’s a win-win for everyone. It’s a really fun day.”

Mattel’s Party on the Pier has raised $8 million since its inception and in recent years the funds from the event have been directed to the hospital’s congenital heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and gene-therapy programs, research on autism-related epilepsy and treatments to improve immune function for children who have undergone chemotherapy and bone-marrow transplants, according to a Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA press release.

According to the press release, Mattel Party on the Pier 2015 has already raised over $850,000 in funds, an all-time high for the event, and is expected to again attract a sellout crowd.

Mattel Party on the Pier will be held on Sunday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier. General admission tickets are available at $150 for adults and $75 for children ages 3 to 12. Children under 3-years-old are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.partyonthepier.ucla.edu/.

To learn more about Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA visit http://www.uclahealth.org/mattel.

jennifer@smdp.com

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