Long Beach International Film Festival is good news for Cohen Pediatric

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Stacey Sager reports on the film festival raising money for a new surgical unit at Cohen Children's Medical Center.

Some partnerships are priceless. Or certainly worth the cost of a $10,000 diamond. Just ask the Saatchi family, owners of SVS Fine Jewelry in Oceanside.

They've partnered with the Long Beach International Film Festival (LBIFF), which opens this week, to launch a "Diamond Dig" at the Film Festival, to be held this Friday evening inside the Allegria Hotel.

The event will raise money for a new surgical unit at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

WATCH Wednesday's kickoff event for this year's festival

For the Saatchis, whose son Maverick was born nine weeks early, the issue is deeply personal. Their son, who is now 4, has had nearly a dozen surgeries at Cohen.

"They never let us feel how bad it was," said Maverick's father, Sami Saatchi.

Saatchi and the doctors at Northwell's pediatric facility know all too well the importance of keeping children in their own space when they need surgery. While Cohen already has New York State's largest pediatric trauma unit, plans for a multi-year, $110 million project are well underway.

The project will eventually create a separate pediatric surgical unit at Cohen. The goal is to fund $50 million through philanthropic donations. The Saatchis' event is one of them.

"We are going to bring the beach indoors, and we are going to create a large sand pit, and give them sifters," Saatchi explained. "And you can buy a ticket for x amount of time in that sand pit and try to dig out your diamond,"

There will only be one real diamond placed in the pit. Last year, the Saatchis raised $15,000 at the film festival, after placing cubic zirconias into 99 different champagne glasses, and just one real diamond, worth $10,000, for a lucky winner.

The LBIFF'S co-founder explained this is one of several charitable events they do, and they feel it is critical.

"To give to a hospital that does so much for children that truly do need it, that is the reason why you get out of bed in the morning and do what you do," said co-founder Craig Weintraub.

Doctors at Northwell say that the new facility will house up to eight new operating rooms and a 26-bay recovery unit for post-operative care.

"That really means that a child will never enter an environment where they are exposed to the rest of what life brings to us as adults, when we get sick," said Dr. Jose Prince, medical director at Cohen's Pediatric Trauma Unit.

The Saatchis are hoping to at least double what they raised last year. The event at the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach runs from 6 -9 p.m. on Friday. Tickets cost $20 for 20 seconds in the sand pit.


More Eyewitness News coverage of the festival here

Check out the festival's website here

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entertainmentlong beach international film festivalNew York CityNassau CountyLynbrook
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