On Thursday November 10, 2016 the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation hosted its 19th annual benefit dinner and auction at Cipriani Wall Street with cocktails beginning at 6:30 PM. The event marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation by noted oncologist Samuel Waxman. Since its inception in 1976, the Foundation has awarded $90 million to support the work of more than 200 researchers across the globe. The mission of the Foundation is to eradicate cancer by funding cutting-edge research that identifies and corrects abnormal gene function that causes cancer.
|Marion Waxman and Jean Shafiroff|
This is one of the top fundraising events in New York City, attended by more than 800 corporate executives and board members. The past year I have gone to many galas and dinners where attendance and enthusiasm had whittled off from prior years-perhaps due to the economy or the unsettling election. However, this year’s Waxman event had more guests and greater excitement than prior years.
The Cipriani ballroom was packed with Wall Streeters making it almost impossible to walk. Getting hundreds of wolves to pay $1500 and spend 5 hours of their precious time listening to speeches is no easy feat. Perhaps the addition of Roger Daltrey garnered a rock loving crowd. However, I would say it had more to do with the efforts of chair Michael Nierenberg and Samuel Waxman who make this a must on the calendar of every financier.
Aside from being an important charitable cause, it is also a business “happening” where many of the attendees remain standing in order to fraternize with their colleagues and make valuable business connections. A staple at this event is famed designer John Varvatos whose brother, sister and father were all diagnosed with cancer. Varvatos told me he always wears his own designs which are “stylish and comfortable” looked modern and edgy with a quiet elegance that sets him apart.
He owns 24 stores worldwide and recently opened a World Trade Center boutique; however, his most profitable emporium is located in Soho. Varvatos said sales have softened since the period of the election and the increased fervor for online shopping, but because he chooses to be a leader and an originator he is still doing quite well. He was also more than happy to tell me he admires Tom Ford for his creative designs and that his [Varvatos’] motto is “don’t do something unless you’re passionate about it.”
|Louise Camuto and Joyce Varvatos|
Some other fashion icons who were paid homage to, were Vince Camuto whose wife Louise was given the Memorial Award. Louise, whose husband Vince died a year-and-a-half ago from prostate cancer, spoke of his legacy and said she was donating a grant of $100,000 for three years to help cure cancer without utilizing chemotherapy and radiation.
|Allen Siegel, Michael Nierenberg, Lisa & Jeff Hacker|
In order to raise additional funds, a live auction was held where dinner for ten by chef David Burke went for $5,000 with the auctioneer joking that if you wanted to appear well fed like Burke you should bid on this dinner. Moreover, an English bulldog named Rex was auctioned for $13,000 with the addition of a sibling at home who was obtained by another lucky attendee for $12,000.
Photo courtesy of Waxman Foundation
After all this transacting, it was nice to begin the entertainment portion of the evening which contained rock legend Roger Daltrey of the “The Who” and singer-songwriter Willie Nile. Daltrey, an astounding 72, rocked the crowd with the vocals and enthusiasm of a twenty-two-year-old and he had the crowd on their feet for a performance that lasted over an hour. This man is still sexy and his love for his profession was readily apparent as he belted out hits such as”You Better You Bet” and “Pinball Wizard”.
At the late hour of 11:30 PM most of the crowd had gone home; the term “money never sleeps” it turns out, might not be that apropos at all.