|IMF President Susie Novis with Gala honorees Daniel E. Smith, the Honorable Geraldine Ferraro, and Tom Bay |
As The Unknown Patient and his Unknown spouse dragged their luggage onto the shuttle to Washington DC, there was much to celebrate. His battle with myeloma was approaching its thirteenth year and for reasons far from Unknown, he was still going strong and feeling well. And, the Unknown couple was headed south for the IMF's 12th Anniversary Ribbon Of Hope Gala.
Landing in DC, the Unknown couple headed for our hotel. For some reason, the elevator bank was filled with rather large security guards in ill-fitting suits. Stepping into the elevator, we found ourselves riding up with Rolling Stone Keith Richardsthat explains the security.
|Suzanne and Rich Saletan with Susie Novis and Lindsay Luke |
The Unknown couple met IMF board member Rich Saletan and his lovely wife Susan for a late lunch in the hotel lobby. We were joined by IMF President Susie Novis and IMF board member Michael Katz and his lovely wife Susan (every woman in this article seems to be named Susan.) While crunching on his Caeser salad, your unknown author was stunned to see none other than Mick Jagger, looking none the worse for decades of wear, trying to make a quiet exit out the back door. Springing into action, Susie Novis grabbed a napkin and dodged two bodyguards to get to the elder Stone. "Mick, Mick," she said, "we' re holding a benefit here tonight, won't you please sign this? Come on, Mick, it's to help cancer patients!" Susie returned to her quesadilla with a new item for the silent auction, a napkin autographed by Mick Jagger.
|Robin Leach with IMF Director Don Woodward and Chairman of the Board Dr. Brian G.M. Durie |
Not too much later, the Unknown couple put on their evening duds and made their way to the IMF Gala, which opened with a reception and silent auction. This was a great opportunity to introduce the Unknown spouse to folks who were good friends and prominent members of the myeloma community but Unknown to her.
The Unknown couple had an interesting discussion with Dr. Bill Bensinger of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, one of the world's leading experts on myeloma transplants. Also present was IMF board member, Dr. Edith Mitchell, a Philadelphia-based oncologist who is a general in the U.S. Army. Dr. Mitchell also chairs the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group's Underserved Committee. The Unknown couple was also pleased to see the evening's master of ceremonies, Robin Leach, of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Robin lost friend Brian Troup to myeloma and has been donating his services to the IMF in his memory for the past three years.
|Deborah Doss with Quality of Care Award |
During the reception, Dinner Co-Chair Benson Klein presented the Quality of Care award to Deborah Doss, a multiple myeloma clinical research nurse at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Benson has experienced first-hand the outstanding service and care Deborah provides to myeloma patients and their families.
Between drinks and tête-à-têtes, the Unknown patient managed to place bids on a number of silent auction items, including some jewelry for the spouse and a script from one of his favorite episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond. Soon, the doors into the ballroom opened and the guests entered and were seated to the sounds of the band singing We Are Family.
|Dinner Co-chairs Carol and Benson Klein with IMF Event Producer Suzanne Battaglia |
Master of Ceremonies Robin Leach welcomed everyone and introduced IMF founders Brian Durie and Susie Novis. Brian and Susie spoke about the IMF's mission, improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working towards a cure, and remembering fellow IMF founder Brian Novis. They introduced this year's dinner chairs, Carol and Benson Klein, who spoke about their personal battle with myeloma and how important the IMF is to myeloma patients and caregivers worldwide. The Kleins announced IMF Ribbon of Hope awards to Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Barbara Mikulski for their passionate committment to increasing the level of federal funding for cancer research.
|Honoree Tom Bay with famly and friends and IMF Director Chuck Newman and wife Sharon |
Next up was Michael Katz to present the IMF Courage Awards. The first award was presented to Tom Bay, a motivational speaker who helps people dealing with cancer put their lives back together. When Tom was diagnosed with myeloma, he stepped forward to help other patients, becoming active in the IMF and speaking at IMF Patient & Family seminars.
|Master of Ceremonies Robin Leach and the Honorable Geraldine Ferraro |
A second IMF Courage award was presented to the Honorable Geraldine Ferraro. Ms. Ferraro made national headlines when she stepped forward to talk about her personal battle with myeloma. She was instrumental in securing support for the Hematological Cancer Research and Investment Act of 2002. And, she has put a face on multiple myeloma. Presenter Michael Katz said it well, "Tonight, we salute Gerri the human being, Gerri the patient, and Gerri the survivor, for having the compassion and the courage to come forward for the benefit of all myeloma patients." Geraldine Ferraro spoke passionately, offering words of encouragement to fellow patients and caregivers. She also emphasized the importance of the IMF's work, recalling the phrases "You are not alone. The IMF is here to help you."
|Dan Smith with wife Lorraine Voles and IMF Advocacy Consultant Greg Brozeit |
The next honoree was Dan Smith, the founder of One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC), a coalition of over forty cancer advocacy organizations, including the IMF. It's easy to ignore forty self-interested organizations each arguing for a bigger piece of the cancer research pie. OVAC brings these organizations together to send a clear message to Congress and to the White House: "We need to make the cancer research pie bigger. We need to fund the cancer research programs that will end the suffering, programs that will stop cancer from shattering lives." Most recently, Dan was instrumental in arranging a senate appropriations committee hearing on cancer research funding at which IMF president Susie Novis testified as a representative of OVAC. Dan has made a difference for all cancer patients and we were thrilled to be able to present him with the IMF Ribbon Of Hope Award.
|Auctioneer David S. Fox keeps the bidding lively |
The live auction was held during dinner and was lots of fun. Robin Leach and auctioneer David Fox did a spectacular job of working the crowd to get folks to bid. Your Unknown author passed on the Mick Jagger napkin, which attracted quite a bit of traffic, and ultimately sold for $1,700.
|Bruce Williams of Genta Incorporated shows off the prized Mick Jagger autograph as a colleague sports the Rolling Stones tour baseball cap |
But the highlight of the auction was clearly the entrance of the chocolate Labrador puppy, donated by a patient's family that is in the breeding business. The puppy was very young, very mellow, and very cute! John Zacarro looked over at his wife Geraldine and said "I' m going to buy the puppy for our daughter." A bidding war of sorts ensued, but John was successful, and the puppy spent the rest of the evening comfortably nestled in Geraldine Ferraro's lap, holding court as hoards of folks came over to get a closer look and pet the puppy.
After dinner, there was a large throng of IMF supporters on the dance floor having a blast until the wee hours. There was much to celebrate. We had a great time, raised a lot of money for the IMF and paid tribute to some very deserving people. The Unknown Patient thanks everyone who helped make the gala a huge success!