Corona del Mar Philanthropist Douglas Freeman Launches Celebration of Heroes

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Doug Freeman

Corona del Mar philanthropist Douglas Freeman, who along with President Ronald Reagan created National Philanthropy Day (an event celebrated annually throughout the U,S. and around the world), has launched an international Celebration of Heroes.

The Celebration of Heroes will recognize scientists from around the world who were responsible for the discovery, development, and deployment of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.

The Celebration will also recognize countless everyday heroes, from those on the front lines in the healthcare field to teachers, grocery clerks, staff at senior centers, and even friends and families who performed extraordinary services to care for those touched by the pandemic.

The event will take place in the spring of 2022.

Joining Freeman in the creation of Celebration of Heroes is entrepreneur Charlie Zhang, a naturalized U.S citizen who escaped nearly penniless from communist China at age 24 and went on to create several multi-million-dollar businesses.

“Our nation and the world have been hit hard, and Orange County alone has had more than 300,000 cases and 5,300 deaths,” said Freeman. “But it would have been worse had it not been for the physical, mental, and financial sacrifices made by men and women in health care, the scientists whose knowledge, skill and tenacity helped us resume our lives, our schools and our businesses, and everyday pandemic heroes. Together these humanitarians protected us, and healed and cared for our loved ones, friends and colleagues who were stricken. They must be honored.”

Among the scientists scheduled to be honored (representing hundreds involved) include Dr. Katalin Karikó and Dr. Drew Weissman, both from the University of Pennsylvania. Their groundbreaking work, starting as far back as 1985 and continuing for many years thereafter, is credited as the foundation for the science that directly led to two of the successful vaccines.

Freeman said the Celebration will give the public an opportunity to hear from these and other scientists, who collectively and individually, saved millions of lives worldwide and changed the course of medicine.

It’s also an opportunity for the public to meet and reward those otherwise largely unknown everyday heroes who provided extraordinary care and compassion to those suffering from COVID-19 at enormous and sometimes the ultimate sacrifice to their health and the health of their own family.

Anyone may submit a nomination of an everyday hero who displayed exceptional courage, compassion, and public service.

According to Freeman, he has asked 13 hospitals and systems and eight healthcare related professional associations and unions to encourage their staff, clinical and non-clinical, members and affiliates, to promote nominations.

“We know there are really interesting and compelling stories within their organizations, and we are confident they will want to make those stories known,” said Freeman.

Visit for more information and to nominate a hero. Nominations will be accepted through January 31, 2022. Each nominated hero will have his or her name, picture, video, and story on the Celebration of Heroes website so the public can meet each one and understand just how extraordinary their sacrifice has been.

A panel of judges will review the submissions and up to 200 nominees will be selected to come to the Celebration and represent all the nominees throughout Orange County.

The Celebration’s Hummingbird Award for achieving the nearly impossible to benefit humanity will be presented to the scientists and selected everyday heroes.

On Friday, April 29, 2022, the scientists will participate in a press conference at the National Academy of Sciences at UC Irvine, followed by a panel for the general public, including a Q&A session.

On Saturday, April 30, the honorees will be hosted at a reception, dinner and concert for guests and honorees at the Westin Anaheim Resort. A limited number of tickets will be available to the public via the Celebration of Heroes website.

“We are also in discussions with the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. to host an event sometime in April that would enable our Distinguished Scientists to engage with their peers and colleagues, as well as the national press,” said Freeman.

Charitable Ventures of Orange County (, a nonprofit public benefit corporation organized under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(2), serves as the Celebration’s fiscal sponsor.


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