Newswise — LOS ANGELES (April 24, 2024) -- Ageless and evergreen: The signature lyric that sums up Robin Lipman’s reverence for one of the most iconic entertainers of our time. That epic level of fan appreciation would manifest in a fundraising campaign to benefit the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai.

On Christmas Eve 1976, outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Lipman, a bright-eyed 14-year-old, tagged along with her mother to the movies. On the marquee: A Star Is Born, featuring Academy Award winner Barbra Streisand.

That day marked the genesis of a lifelong Streisand admirer committed to helping others in the entertainer’s honor. Mesmerized by Streisand’s captivating performance, Lipman saved every penny from after-school and weekend babysitting and lawn-mowing jobs to see the film, totaling 163 trips to the theater.

“I used to take two buses to the mall where the theater was located,” said Lipman. “Then, I would stay to see, like, four showings at a time, and get emotional every time. I’d just cry my eyes out.”

Decades later, Lipman’s biggest dream would come true. She’d been socking away every spare dollar from paychecks and birthday gifts to attend all of Streisand’s rare and coveted tours over the years—across the U.S., Europe and Israel.

One day, on a whim, Lipman wrote a message on a hotel towel: “Thank you, Barbra. We love you!” She planned to sneak away from her nosebleed seat—the only ticket she could afford—and hoist the sign near the stage in hopes that Streisand would glimpse her heartfelt message. It happened at a show in Madison Square Garden. Mid-performance, Streisand spotted the towel and gave a shout out to Lipman on the spot. On a tour stop in Amsterdam, after several towel sightings, one of Streisand’s representatives approached Lipman to extend an invitation to meet the icon.

“They escorted me backstage and all of a sudden, I look over and she’s standing right next to me,” Lipman shared. “She was the nicest, most down-to-earth person.” Lipman says Streisand asked why she set aside so much money to see her shows, to which Lipman replied, “there’s nothing I’d rather spend my money on.”   

It wasn’t long before Lipman launched her peer-to-peer fundraising effort to support the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center—both as a nod to the entertainer and a way to help end gender disparities in cardiac care. Lipman had learned that was the catalyst for the center coming to fruition in 2012. Streisand partnered with C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, the center’s director, and a nationally recognized expert in women’s cardiac care, to establish the eponymic enterprise. Streisand has long championed Cedars-Sinai’s initiatives, funding women’s heart disease research and underwriting the Barbra Streisand Women's Cardiovascular Research and Education Program, the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, and the Women’s Heart Alliance.

“Cedars-Sinai is both honored and grateful to build upon our relationship with Barbra Streisand to effect positive change in the diagnosis and treatment of women impacted by heart disease,” said Bairey Merz, who holds the Women’s Guild Endowed Chair in Women’s Health. “Robin’s efforts are so heartwarming, and reinforce our objectives to advance medical discovery and equitable treatment of women seeking cardiac care.”

Lipman’s fundraising began with a symbolic wink to the entertainer’s birthday of April 24th. Her target goal that year was exactly $4,024.24. Lipman leveraged the power of social media, announcing her campaign to her network of friends. She would far surpass that initial target amount. This year, on Streisand’s birthday, Lipman presented a novelty check to the Streisand center for $24,424.24, with the cumulative amount raised topping $27,000.

“Robin Lipman set a goal, then worked exceptionally hard to raise more than six times that number,” said Arthur J. Ochoa, JD, senior vice president of Advancement and chief advancement officer at Cedars-Sinai. “I can proudly say, on behalf of the entire Cedars-Sinai family, Robin has developed her very own fan base in the hearts of everyone benefitting from her selfless philanthropy, and every member of our healthcare community.”  

Lipman has deemed the Streisand center her forever cause and says the campaign will continue indefinitely. Ageless and evergreen.

Read more in Discoveries: Women’s Health Research Draws First Lady’s Attention