The Bridgehampton Benefit is asking the East End to “Rise Up.”
“Operation Rise Up” is honoring two philanthropic entities, the Carlos Beltran Foundation and Operation International, on Saturday, July 27, at the Southampton Arts Center, 25 Jobs Lane, from 6 to 11 p.m.
The event is being presented by the Bridgehampton Benefit, an annual celebrity-driven charity event created by Bridgehampton Equities founder Jason E. Zimmerman, which helps promote humanitarian organizations and helps raise awareness for charitable institutions by organizing and hosting exclusive charity events in the Hamptons.
The mission of the benefit’s fourth-ever gala is to help Beltran’s native Puerto Rico “rise up” from the devastation left behind from Hurricane Maria, the Category 5 storm that battered the island nation, and the surrounding area, in September 2017.
Operation International, as stated at operationinternational.org, was formerly known as International Surgical Mission Support (ISMS). Based in Southampton, it is a secular, non-political, humanitarian organization founded in 1996 by Dr. Medhat Allam, Dr. Ravi Kothuru and Robert Mineo, CRNA. They wanted to offer medical aid to adults and children suffering from the lack of quality health care in impoverished countries.
In its quest to change and save as many lives as possible, Operation International provides free medical care to people in need, regardless of gender, cultural, ethnic, political or religious affiliations, in countries around the world. It also offers education and training to local health care workers during each of its medical missions. Due to its history in providing much needed relief to many countries, in 2016 Operation International was recognized by the United Nations and received the Ronald McDonald Peace Award by Rotary International.
The Carlos Beltran Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit that has been at the forefront of the relief efforts since Maria ravaged the country nearly two years ago. The foundation donated $1 million to Puerto Rico directly after Maria, and it helped raise nearly $400,000 more through an online charity drive.
Beltran, born in Manatí, Puerto Rico, enjoyed a 20-year career in the Major Leagues, playing for seven different organizations, including the New York Mets and New York Yankees; he is now an adviser for the Yankees. He retired in 2017 after winning a World Championship with the Houston Astros, fittingly capping off what could very well be a Hall of Fame career.
The upcoming benefit is also serving as a retirement party for the nine-time All-Star.
Puerto Rico has made strides since the hurricane. But in a phone interview this week, Beltran said work still needs to be done.
“Right now, we’re rebuilding seven homes in Puerto Rico, and we have rebuilt many more,” he said on Wednesday, July 17. “The situation is getting better, but there are still people who were in the center of it all who lost everything. My foundation is doing the best we can to try to provide families their homes back so they can continue with their lives.
“I’m very honored to be recognized by the Bridgehampton Benefit this year,” Beltran added.
In the two years or so since he’s been retired, Beltran said his main focus has been charity work. He created a new school, the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Florida, Puerto Rico, in 2011. It started with 50 students but has since grown to 150, moving toward its initial goal of 200 students.
“It’s really starting to have an impact, and what’s beautiful about the academy is that about 90 percent of the kids, they are first generation in their family of going to college in the U.S.,” he said. “That’s something we take a lot of pride in. And we really focus on the academic part of it, not just baseball. The kids go there with the hopes of one day being pro baseball players, but we really want them to focus on their academics, because it is a very hard sport to be a professional in, and they should really use baseball as an instrument to give back to their community.
“My foundation gives scholarships. The school serves basically 50 municipalities in Puerto Rico, so we’re very active, and I’m extremely proud of the job we have done,” Beltran continued. “My mentality has always been: I’ve been blessed to have played baseball for 20 years, and now I have that platform to do good and make an impact in the cities that I played for, and Puerto Rico.”
The gala will feature live music and dancing in the spirit of Old San Juan with a number of celebrity guests, such as former New York Giants and Fox Business News co-host Jack Brewer; pop singer/songwriter Samantha Cole; former Major League ballplayers Victor Martinez, Jose Reyes and Andres Torres; entrepreneur Rohan Marley; author and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson; producer Helen Matsos; and stand-up comedian Chuck Nice.
There is a dress code for the event: Ladies are asked to wear colorful dresses, while gentlemen are asked to wear white pants and colorful shirts.
For additional information and ticket purchases, visit bridgehamptonbenefit.com.