The “Moving Forward Together to Fight Lupus” gala dinner celebrated the upcoming merging of the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR), the Lupus Research Institute (LRI), and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation. The event — the world’s leading lupus fundraiser — collected close to $3 million for groundbreaking research that promises to save lives while moving toward a cure.
Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson IV, the founder of the ALR and chairman and CEO of the New York Jets, co-hosted the Nov. 30, 2015, event together with Richard DeScherer, president of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and Chief Legal & Compliance Officer at Bloomberg L.P., and Robert J. Ravitz, chairman of Lupus Research Institute, according to a press release. Brenda Blackmon, TV broadcaster, lupus advocate, and the mother of a lupus child served as the Master of Ceremony. The evening also included a special guest performance by Megan Hilty, the singer and actress who stars in the NBC series Smash.
The Corporate Leadership Award was given to Michelle Ifill on behalf of Verizon Communications, Inc., for the company’s contributions to ALR’s research and to the lupus community. Verizon is an active participant in fundraising events, with thousands of employees attending ALR walkathons across the U.S., and contributing over $500,000 through their own initiatives.
The 2015 Visionary Award recognized two outstanding contributors, S.L.E. Foundation founder Susan Golick, and Jennie DeScherer, an active member of the Boards of the Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, in presenting DeScherer her award, called her an “inspiring example of someone who won’t let this disease get in the way of living her life to the fullest.” Presenter Jerry Chazen, LRI and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Board member, praised Golick for her work in launching the lupus movement 45 years ago and in keeping the organization alive and growing.
“Tonight we honor the champions who had the extraordinary vision and pioneering spirit to support the most novel research,” said Margaret G. Dowd, the president and CEO of the Lupus Research Institute and executive director of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation. “We support patient-centric research which means that everything is about the patients and for the patients.”
“This year’s Gala celebrates the strength of the lupus community as it brings people from ever-widening circles together to fight for a common cause,” said Kenneth M. Farber, president of the Alliance for Lupus Research. “The upcoming merger of the ALR with the Lupus Research Institute and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is enormously exciting as the culmination of our ongoing collaboration and the launch of the world’s largest group dedicated to advancing innovative research in lupus.”
Other notables among the event’s 600 guests included Matilda Cuomo, Edward and Arlyn Gardner, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, Brett Heyman, Donald Newhouse, Joan Sarnoff, Fern and Lenard Tessler, and Carol and Michael Weisman. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was unable to attend, sent a letter of congratulations through his Assistant Secretary of Health Tracie Gardner.