The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) hosted its annual Collaborating for a Cure Benefit Dinner & Auction at Cipriani Wall Street, posthumously honoring William S. Gorin, former CEO of MFA Financial, Inc., and featuring a musical performance by The Avett Brothers. This year’s event was attended by about 800 corporate executives, board members, and their guests. Chris Wragge, co-anchor of CBS 2 News This Morning, served as master of ceremonies for the event, which raised approximately $2.5 million for SWCRF cancer research programs. The impressive amount raised at the Gala will be used to support the Foundation’s research efforts to produce a cure for cancer by reprogramming cancer cells and to deliver tailored, minimally toxic treatments to patients.
After a cocktail reception and silent auction, SWCRF Collaborating for a Cure Gala host Michael Nierenberg thanked the foundation’s board, staff, and the evening’s guests before introducing Master of Ceremonies Chris Wragge. Mr. Wragge welcomed SWCRF founder and CEO Dr. Samuel Waxman to the stage. Dr. Waxman thanked the hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Nierenberg, along with all of the donors, for more than 20 years of giving, and outlined some of the organization’s major achievements before providing an update on the SWCRF’s Partnerships for Aging and Cancer Research program, a collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Aging that will add more partners. Research funded by the program, which launches officially next year, will study the environmental and genetic factors that increase the risk of cancer as people age. Dr. Waxman announced that the partnership has a goal of building a $20 million fund.
Following Dr. Waxman’s announcement, Mr. Nierenberg introduced a video tribute to Mr. Gorin, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in August 2017. In the video, Mr. Gorin’s family and friends, including his widow Jody Gorin, reflected on his legacy, painting the picture of an optimistic, driven, and family oriented man who never let the disease get in the way of his enjoyment of life’s moments. After the video, Mr. Nierenberg and Dr. Waxman presented Mrs. Gorin with the William S. Gorin Memorial Award, which marks the introduction of an annual grant to fund research by a special investigator working in pancreatic cancer.
Hugh Hildesley, Executive Vice President of Sotheby’s, then introduced the first auction of the night, in which donors bid at three high levels—$10,000, $25,000 and $50,000. SWCRF Executive Director William T. Sullivan then introduced the gala’s Text to Pledge, a mobile fundraising technology through which guests texted their donations accompanied by messages of encouragement and celebration that appeared on large screens in the venue in real-time throughout the evening. Afterwards, Mr. Nierenberg welcomed Mary Stone of Bank of America on stage to share a heartfelt remembrance of her colleague Sonia Chun, who passed away in August after a battle with Triple-Negative breast cancer.
The evening’s live auction was led with lively enthusiasm by Mr. Hildesley. Guests bid on exclusive items such as A ten-course meal with wine pairings for eight guests at Chef Gabriel Kreuther’s exclusive kitchen table, which sold for $9,000; reservations for six at Rao’s, featuring a hand-picked, Chef prepared menu including appetizers, entrees, desserts, and wine, which sold for $21,000; and the evening’s highest bid, a Palm Bay International Spanish vineyards, castle, and wine package which sold for $36,000. Other auction items included two house seats to the sold-out Springsteen on Broadway (sold for $17,000) and a private wine tasting for 25 at Italian Wine Merchants, which went for $14,000.
Silent auction items will be available for bidding at CharityStars.com until November 30th, 2017, and include An opportunity to see one of Bette Midler’s final performances in Hello, Dolly!; Tickets to The Dr. OZ Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show; a caviar luxury spa package at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City; signed jerseys from New York Jets legend Joe Namath and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Franco Harris; hotel stays including the Club Barbados Resort & Spa, the Verandah Resort & Spa in Antigua, and the Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood, California; dinner gift certificates to top New York City restaurants such as Cipriani, Casa Lever, Delmonico’s, and La Masseria; a painting by artist Alexey Klokov; and four front-row tickets to see the New York Jets play the San Diego Chargers, among many other exciting offerings.
After the auction, guests were treated to an exclusive concert by folk-rock band The Avett Brothers.
Known affectionately by New Yorkers as “The Waxman,” this yearly fête is one of the top fundraising events in New York City. In recent years, “The Waxman” has raised millions of dollars to support the Foundation’s research efforts to produce a cure for cancer. Past celebrity performers have included Ziggy Marley, Train, Peter Frampton, Gregg Allman, Kid Rock, Steely Dan, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Sheryl Crow, John Fogerty, Roger Daltrey, and Counting Crows.