Several thousand people are expected to attend The Concert for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital on Thursday night in San Francisco, a key fundraiser for the wide variety of programs and facilities that the hospital provides to sick children from all over the world.

The third annual event is set to take place at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, and inside San Francisco’s iconic City Hall, with festivities including live music, comedy, cocktails and special presentations. Headliners for this year’s event include comedian Dana Carvey, country trio Lady Antebellum and local rapper MC Hammer.

The concert is an important part of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital’s efforts to provide a host of programs to sick children and their families–the two previous concerts raised more than $10 million, according to UCSF spokeswoman Karin Rush-Monroe.

“First and foremost, we focus on helping children cope with and understand what is happening to them,” said Michael Towne, manager of Child Life Services at the hospital.

“That might be something as simple as getting an IV started, and making sure that that doesn’t come as a surprise or traumatizing experience to them, to something as big as say helping them understand what Leukemia is, or how to get through a bone marrow transplant.”

In addition to treating children with a variety of illnesses, and preparing them for their procedures, the hospital also strives to provide a level of comfort for them and their families while staying there.

“We also just make sure kids are playing while they’re in the hospital, and maintaining a sense of what is normal for them, so that the whole hospital experience is minimally negatively impactful,” said Towne.

“We’re trying to not only help them get through something difficult, but maybe even learn a little bit about who they are.”

On average the hospital helps 10,000-12,000 children every year, according to Towne, and many of them come from disenfranchised backgrounds or communities–which is where another facet off their care comes into play.

“We help families with housing and food and transportation while they are here–this concert is not only a great opportunity to raise awareness in the community, but it also allows us to encourage people to help us support these families who come to us sometimes with a great amount of need.”

On top of raising funds for current programming, money generated from the concert will also go towards building a new state of the art home for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at the university’s Mission Bay campus, slated to open in 2015.

The Concert for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital takes place on Thursday at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St., San Francisco, and San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $250. For more information visit or call (415) 476-6400.

Sean McCourt, Bay City News

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