Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center will bring back its signature black tie gala, The Premier, after pausing the event in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual event, which traditionally hosts over 900 guests from throughout Western New York, will take place on Saturday, Jan. 15 at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, in Niagara Falls.

Each year, the Premier honors and recognizes individuals who have made a lasting impact on our community. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and this year’s honorees are two individuals who continue to put others first and make a difference in the community.

Rajinder Bajwa, M.D. serves as Memorial’s chief of Infectious Disease division and has been part of the Medical Center team since 2013. A graduate of Government Medical College, Patiala, India, Dr. Bajwa completed a residency in radiodiagnosis at Dayanand Medical College & Hospital, Ludhiana, and trained in Internal Medicine at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh. He then completed fellowship in Infectious Diseases at University of Buffalo.

Dr. Bajwa has truly led the way in supporting and serving our patients, staff, and community during the COVID-19 pandemic. His expertise, dedication, and loyalty make him the ideal candidate for this recognition.

Russell J. Salvatore has gifted millions of dollars to area hospitals to help them improve the patient experience and patient care, including a major gift to renovate Memorial’s welcome center in 2019. In addition to supporting area hospitals, he has also championed and supported higher education projects, including the Russell J. Salvatore Dining Commons at Niagara University.

Salvatore will receive the Nancy Gara Spirit Award. The award is presented in memory of a WNY banking executive and former medical center board member who was renowned for her positive attitude and personal commitment to serving the community.

Co-chairing the 2022 event are Ravinder K. Devgun, D.O. and Sukhmender S. Saran, and Bishop Darius G. Pridgen and Pastor Craig D. Pridgen.

Dr. Devgun has served as Memorial’s Chief of Anesthesiology since 2016 and has been a pediatric anesthesiologist with Great Lakes Anesthesiology for the past 7 years. After receiving her bachelor’s degree at the University at Buffalo, Dr. Devgun later returned to UB for her anesthesia residency following medical school in Long Island.

Along with her husband Sukhmender, they have both spent most of their lives in the WNY community and are thrilled to be a part of the Premier committee this year, looking forward to giving back to both Memorial.

Bishop Pridgen is a mentor and community leader who serves as Council President representing Buffalo’s Ellicott District and as Senior Pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo. In addition to his weekly services, Bishop Pridgen’s teachings and preaching’s are heard worldwide online. However, his heart is rooted in his community and through the True Bethel Charities, Taste of Faith Food Pantry, True Bethel Clothes Closet and Nehemiah Arms emergency housing, Bishop Pridgen’s church provides resources to individuals who find themselves in need of a helping hand.

Much like his father, Pastor Craig Pridgen’s advocacy is seen through his work on a number of community boards, including Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. A native of Buffalo, Pastor Pridgen was ordained as an Elder in 2002 and quickly lead efforts in preparing inner-city youth for the workforce. In November 2010, Elder Craig was sent to the newly opened True Bethel Niagara Falls location to carry out the vision and passion of the Buffalo location, and in 2019 was elected President of The Niagara Falls Ministerial Council.

Proceeds from the 2022 Premier will go directly towards the Medical Centers many programs and services. This event sells out early every year. For tickets and information on sponsorship and donation opportunities, please call (716) 278-4604.

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