Virgin Galactic has taken philanthropy to new heights…literally. Virgin’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, made available a seat into outer space for today’s “The Pulse of Innovation” benefit for Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute.
The seat, which sold at the live auction for $300,000, was offered in appreciation of the Institute’s doctors, who performed a life-saving cardiovascular treatment on Branson’s wife, Lady Joan Branson. Proceeds from the auction will go toward Baptist Health’s $100 million building and technology expansion. Among new programs planned by the Institute is a National Center for Aneurysm Therapy, a Center for Advanced Endovascular Therapy and a Center for Structural Heart Therapy.
“I have been married 38 years and I hope to be married another 38 years. Today I am thanking Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute for saving my wife’s life,” Branson said.
The winning bidders were Constance and Mike Fernandez, who also happened to be hosting the event at their Coral Gables Estates home. More than 70 guests paid $5,000 a seat to attend one of the most exciting social events of the season.
The plane’s first flight will be in April. The premier voyage will make Sir Richard, along with his children, Holly and Sam, the first private space travelers. Soon after, the 680-plus people who have already made the $250,000 down payment for seats will be able to take their turns. They’ll launch from the company’s “spaceport” in New Mexico and then climb to an altitude on 71,000 ft., where they’ll experience weightlessness.