New York City – the City that never sleeps, you could feel the electricity in the air. The IMF had just arrived in the Big Apple to celebrate our 10th anniversary. When I
walked into the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf=Astoria for our Friday morning rehearsal, the sight of the elegant room literally took my breath away. What a long way we’ve come from where it all began – with one man, Brian Novis, working at a borrowed typewriter in a little basement room.
For the past year and a half our “team” had worked so hard on the Ribbon of Hope Making a World of Difference Gala. Yes, we had done other benefits, but this one was different. From the early planning stages we knew that this was going to be special because it really personified what the IMF is all about – people helping people, families helping families.
For ten years the IMF has reached out to people all over the world. Bringing help and hope to those in need, no matter who they are or where they live. And that spirit of people helping people is why our Gala night was so special. The ballroom was not filled with strangers – it was filled with friends and family. Everyone there had been touched by myeloma. It’s hard to describe what it felt like without sounding like I’ve been in California too long, but the atmosphere was magical.
The IMF didn’t do this alone. We had amazing help from a host of people - both newcomers and longterm supporters of the IMF and its efforts. We are very grateful for the support we received from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Celgene Corporation. For years these two companies have worked with the IMF, making it possible for us to continue our educational programs and to develop new ones to meet the needs of our members. The IMF would like to acknowledge and send a heartfelt thank you to: Tom Held, Karen Kaminski, Dr. John Seaman, Gloria Stone, Tawfik Kamal and my dear friend Werner Osterwalder of Novartis and John Jackson, Bruce Williams, Amy Cavers, and Dr. Jerry Zeldis of
Some very talented and wonderful people lent a hand to help make the Gala such a success. We were thrilled that Robin Leach was willing to be our Master of Ceremonies! He, too, has been touched by myeloma – one of his best friends was diagnosed several years ago so Robin knows firsthand what this disease is all about. He enthusiastically threw himself into the project and helped make the night the success it was. We extend a very special thank you to Robin!
We are grateful for our honoree, Charles Osgood of CBS Sunday Morning and The Osgood File. It’s obvious how much friendship means to this man – he’s joined the cause in an effort to help his friend and colleague Elliot Bernstein. But Charles Osgood has been touched by myeloma not once, but twice, for another friend was also diagnosed with myeloma, someone many of you will remember – Joe
During the evening, we were privileged to present Charles Osgood with two very meaningful awards, both made possible by IMFers. Artist Marlene Zimmerman presented Charles with a unique sculpture representing a patient’s struggle to deal with myeloma while never losing hope. Tim Egan, always a fantastic supporter of the IMF, once again came through. When he learned that Charles is a wine connoisseur, Tim asked his friends at the Far Niente winery to create a special bottle for the occasion. Indeed they did and Elliot Bernstein had the pleasure of presenting it to Charles.
The evening couldn’t have taken place without our dinner co-chairs, Carol Klein (wife of Trooper Benson), and Marcy Bernstein (wife of Elliot Bernstein). They worked tirelessly for months and their efforts paid off. They were surrounded by a sea of people – friends and family all there to lend support and help put an end to this terrible disease. But behind every good woman is a man and these two women also had the help and support of their husbands, so thank you not only to Carol and Marcy, but to Elliot and Benson, too!
Trooper Benson didn’t do it alone either – his friend Richard Abrams also got involved. Not only did he donate a Porsche sports car for our Gala raffle but he also filled tables with his friends and family. Thanks go to Richard and his beautiful wife Ronnie for their help and support.
As usual, Charles and Jan Briscoe were on hand lending their support to the IMF and the patients and families we serve. They brought a cadre of supporters from Atlanta, Georgia and Emory University. Thanks to all those folks including Cathy Lebkeucker (leader of the Atlanta support group) and her sisters who came North to help the cause!
As I looked around the room that night, I saw so many people who help the IMF help others. Thank you to the Barit family, Ray & Sheryl Comenzo, Mark DiCicilia, Dean Gallea, Eleanor & Siki Ma, Mr. & Mrs. Richard Moodie, Greg & Helen Mundy, Nancy & Joel Oppenheim, Steve & Susie Peltzman, Tim & Margaret Scully, Mike Shaw, Irv Skolnick, Don & Barbara Springer, and Isabelle Lousada and Eric Low from the IMF (UK) who definitely traveled the furthest to be there! I’d also like to send a special thank you to our honorary dinner chairs Gary & Louise Takata, Charles & Sharon Newman and Larry & Sharon Dittelman. You make a world of difference in so many special ways!
IMF supporters Cyril Dwek, Eric Sundt, Don Saunders, and Amy and Rose Wagner helped make this evening a success. Our thanks also go to John McDaniel of “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” Marcia Lewis of the smash Broadway show “Chicago” and director Ken Page; Lee Grayson, Jason Bergman, Elysa Sunshine, Judy Albano and Larry Eagle of the Jason’n’Grayson band; and IMF photographer John Williams.
It was an emotional night for all of us. Friends and family surrounded us. Brian Novis was right – one person can make a difference but two people can make a miracle. Thank you all for making a miracle happen.
Read more about the gala: