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Lou del Rosario (l.) presents to Rotary Club Makati West president Eric V. Angeles a donation of P1,216,600 for the Gift of Life Program.

Businessman and philanthropist Lou del Rosario, past president of Rotary Club Elmsford, New York, donated $28,000 to Rotary Club of Makati West’s Gift of Life Program that saves lives of indigent children with congenital heart defects by providing them free heart procedures.

Addressing last month’s gathering of Rotary Makati West, del Rosario, who was a guest speaker at the event along with Gift of Life International’s Brett Halvorson, surprised the crowd with his $28,000 challenge donation.

Del Rosario held out a giant check with the equivalent peso amount (P1,216,600) and challenged Rotarians to match his contribution dollar for dollar.

Several Rotarians led by Ed Alvarez and even non-Rotarians, including former Philippine ambassador to the United States Albert del Rosario (a brother of Lou del Rosario), responded with generous pledges to match the challenge.

Rotary West Makati managed to collect over $19,000 during the meeting and vowed to raise more to match del Rosario’s contribution to finance the organization’s most ambitious project in its 41 years of existence.

At present, Rotary Makati West has a backlog of some 800 children at the Philippine Heart Center alone, and another 110 children waiting for surgery at the Philippine General Hospital.

“With almost one thousand in these two hospitals alone, it is not hard to imagine that there could be at least 3,000 children nationwide that do not have the means to correct this condition and are relegated to accept death as the only option,” said Eric V. Angeles, president of Rotary Makati West.

The local club has sponsored almost 200 operations since 2005 and intends to help more children, according to Angeles.

“With the backlog of cases, normal waiting time for diagnostic procedures is three months,” Angeles said. “There is no other recourse but to open up this program to more hospitals and more Rotary Clubs across the Philippines if we are to one day wipe out this backlog.”

The program was developed as part of the Rotary Club in Manhasset, Long Island, N.Y. in 1975.

Del Rosario became involved in the program through his membership with Elmsford Rotary Club.

He served as president of the Westchester division in 1985-1986.

Del Rosario and his wife Barbara often held successful fundraisers for Gift of Life at Elmsford Raceway, a miniature racetrack they own.

The cost of providing surgery to a single child is approximately $5,000, which covers primarily the cost of medical supplies and travel expenses.

Aside from fundraisers, the del Rosarios also host children and their parents or guardian for weeks and even months.

Del Rosario shared that his interest in giving back to his community was fostered by his mother, who instilled values in him, such as compassion and benevolence.

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