2015 NY Lupus Handbag Luncheon Raises Money to Support Lupus Research

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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This year’s edition of the New York Lupus Handbag Luncheon gathered over 350 people in a fundraising effort to help support research on the chronic disease lupus last Monday, April 13. The event, which is organized annually by both the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute (LRI), included prominent members of the lupus community in New York, as well as other society, philanthropic, fashion and entertainment individuals.

The NY Lupus Handbag Luncheon honored a series of investigators and advocates for their achievements and efforts to fight lupus. The researcher and head of the Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Diseases at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, and professor of Molecular Medicine and Medicine at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, Betty Diamond, was recognized with the 2015 Women of Achievement award.

“With grants from the LRI and the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation I was able to focus my career primarily on lupus, and that same support has allowed many of today’s younger investigators to pursue the most novel and creative ideas that are delivering promising results,” stated Diamond in a press release. “The field of lupus and autoimmune research owes a great deal to the vision of this organization.”

The founder and creative director of Edie Parker, Brett Heyman, was also distinguished with the same award. “My mother, Carol Weisman, has lupus and has been an active Board member of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation since 2002,” said Heyman. “While she always looks gorgeous on the outside, I grew up watching her struggle on the inside. I support this luncheon to help raise funds for research in hopes of finding a cure for my mom and all women who suffer the devastating effects of lupus. In addition to donating handbags, this year we will contribute 10 percent of the proceeds from Edie Parker bags purchased from April 13 – 20 to the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation with the code LUPUS10,” she added.

The third woman honored with a 2015 Women of Achievement was the associate general counsel at IBM and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Board Secretary, Teri Wilford Wood, who explained that “as a labor and employment law attorney, I guard against discrimination.When I learned how lupus discriminates against young women and women of color my conviction to get involved was sealed.”

The two charities invited the Former First Lady of New York State, founder and chair of MentoringUSA, Matilda Raffa Cuomo, the 2014 honoree, president and CEO of Full Picture, co-creator and executive producer of Project Runway and co-founder of Theodora & Callum, Desiree Gruber, and opera singer Jessye Norman, to serve as honorary luncheon co-chairs.

In addition, Board member and lupus patient Carol Weisman along with co-founder and chief operating officer at Ceiling Breakers, LLC, Gadsden-Williams, also co-chaired this year’s luncheon. The event included a silent auction of over 100 handbags donated by top designers and celebrities to help support lupus research.

“We thank everyone whose hard work has made this luncheon an annual NY institution,” added S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and LRI CEO, Margaret Dowd. “Thanks to our supporters, we have generated over $200 million to advance lupus research. And the resulting discoveries are transforming patients’ lives with better treatments underway as we drive toward prevention and a cure.”

Last February, the Lupus Research Institute celebrated its 15th anniversary with the announcement of a series of grants to recognize new talents, diversity and excellency. Twelve Novel Research Grants were awarded within the categories of “Strategies for Better, Safer Treatments,” “Innovative Technologies to Advance New Therapies and Understanding of Lupus” and “Redirecting the Signals that Control the Immune System in Lupus.”