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Dr. G helps charity, wins Cadillac

Helping a local charity paid off big time for Dr. G. She won a Cadillac valued at $35,000.

Dr. Jan Garavaglia, the chief medical examiner for Orange and Osceola counties, took part in mammoth fund-raiser Saturday night attended by 1,900. Local and national celebrities escorted 120 children who have battled cancer. The goal: Help Runway to Hope, a local charity founded by spouses Mark and Josie NeJame, find and fund a cure for childhood cancer.

"I originally did not want to participate because it was out of my comfort zone to get dressed up and parade around in front of people," said Garavaglia, star of "Dr. G: Medical Examiner." "To convince me to go, Mark NeJame had me watch a video of the kids from last year, and it melted my heart how much courage they have. If they could walk out without hair and scars, I could walk out with heels and a gown."

Garavaglia also helped Runway to Hope by entering the Cadillac raffle.

"It was an unbelievable night for me," Garavaglia said. "To enter the raffle and win the car was just unimaginable. Every time I drive that car, it will remind me of that night and how life really begins at the end of your comfort zone."

The Runway to Hope event raised $809,000 this year, Mark NeJame said Tuesday. It is the event's fourth year, and every year it has grown bigger. TV personalities Brooke Burke-Charvet and Ross Mathews hosted this year.

"It's so gratifying and very grounding," NeJame said. "It truly makes one count their blessings and get their priorities where they need to be. Josie and I have a couple of young daughters. We're in a position to be able to do this, and it has exceeded our expectations."

You can learn more at the charity's website, runwaytohope.org.

NeJame especially likes that Dr. G won a car.

"It shows what the universe might present to you if you dared to go outside your comfort zone," he said. "It's a lesson for all of us."

Copyright © 2014, Orlando Sentinel
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