Lupus Research Alliance Gala Raises $3M to Support Disease Research

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by Mary Chapman |

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Aurinia, lupus nephritis

This year’s Lupus Research Alliance (LRA) Breaking Through Gala, billed as the world’s largest single lupus fundraising event, took in $3 million for research into the autoimmune disorder.

Some 600 members of the global lupus community turned out for the Nov. 25 New York City affair that celebrates LRA-supported scientific discoveries in lupus. The gala was emceed by Emmy-winning journalist and author Brenda Blackmon, whose daughter has the disease.

Honorees included Molly McCabe, co-founder of the Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus (formerly, Molly’s Fund). McCabe is an LRA board member and lupus patient.

“Lupus has taught me compassion, caring, and how to appreciate every good moment you are given,” McCabe said in a press release. “I have been given many great moments over the past 44 years, many of them representing the Lupus Research Alliance.”

Also honored was Alfred F. Kelly Jr., CEO of Visa. “The Lupus Research Alliance is that connective tissue that brings these givers together in this incredible community that wants to find treatment solutions for lupus, an astonishingly complex autoimmune disease that affects each person differently,” he said.

For his part, Kenneth M. Farber, the LRA’s president and CEO, noted promising recent results from advanced clinical trials. “Lupus research is at an interesting inflection point,” he said.

Performing artist Lady Gaga, whose aunt Joanne died from lupus before the two got a chance to meet, was an honorary event co-chair. Her father, Joe Germanotta, is an LRA board member. The other co-chair was former NYC mayor and current U.S. presidential candidate Michael R. Bloomberg.

“Tonight, we celebrate the scientific advances this amazing group helps make possible,” Bloomberg said in a video shown at the event. “Bloomberg Philanthropies is proud to support the Lupus Research Alliance as we have done for many years. We are sharing a simple and powerful message: Join us. Together we can transform even more lives.”

In honor of the gala, and to heighten lupus awareness, the Empire State Building was lit for the day in the LRA’s colors, purple and red. Thanks to the sponsorship of GlaxoSmithKline, the Alliance also got top billing on a prominent Times Square marquee.

A host of co-chairs and Alliance board members attended the event, which included a medley of songs by Tony Award-winner and “My Fair Lady” star Laura Benanti.

Here is a video about the work of the Lupus Research Alliance in supporting innovative lupus research.