ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Mayo Clinic celebrated 150 years with a gala at Mayo Civic Center on Friday night. Nearly 5,000 people turned out for the high profile event.
Live performances, guest speakers and host, Tom Brokaw, entertained attendees for more than three hours. Gov. Mark Dayton opened the festivities, but had to leave the event early for the Governor’s Fishing Opener later that evening in Brainerd.
“I want to tell you how highly the people of Minnesota value Mayo Clinic,” said Dayton.
As Minnesota’s largest private employer, Mayo Clinic employs more than 32,000 people at its main campus in Rochester. Mayo Clinic has locations in Jacksonville, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona.
“You will become even more important as Destination Medical Center comes to life over the next 20 years,” said Dayton.
Performers dressed in period clothing acted out Mayo Clinic’s origins on the Taylor Arena Stage. Images of a tornado played across monitors to mimic the one-and-a-half- mile wide cyclone that hit Rochester in 1883 and effectively started the clinic. The Mayo family partnered with the Sisters of Saint Francis to aid the many victims of the storm.
Aerial acrobats spun from fabric overhead before the introduction of the evening’s host, former NBC Nightly News anchor, Tom Brokaw.
Brokaw recounted his experiences with Mayo Clinic as a member of the Board of Trustees and patient of the hospital. The 74 year old, Yankton, South Dakota native, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma at Mayo Clinic in 2013.
"I grew up in this part of the world and the Mayo Clinic was always a temple in my family, you had regional pride,” said Brokaw. “One of the remarkable things about serving on this board is serving with these dual capacity people...who are first rate at what they do medically, but also run a very complex business."
Brokaw was joined by many other patients of Mayo Clinic. Abbey and Isabelle Carlsen, 8 year old separated, conjoined twins, were separated at six months old by a team of Mayo Clinic surgeons. They joined their parents, Jesse and Amy, at the event.
“Everytime we come here, we go visit everybody and see how well they’re doing,” said Jesse Carlsen. “Mayo treats us how they treat all patients, it’s wonderful. It’s kind of like a class reunion.”
The “reunion” of thousands of Mayo Clinic patients, employees and area residents included many dignitaries from around the world. Princess Aisha bint Al Hussein of Jordan attended the high-profile gala. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede and other state and local representatives were also in attendance. The night’s grand finale ended outside the Mayo Civic Center with a fireworks display.
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