The Alzheimer’s Association held its 33rd annual gala on Tuesday October 25, 2016 at Cipriani 42nd Street with cocktails beginning at 6:30 PM. The theme this year was “The Time Is Now” reflecting the urgency for finding a cure and the optimism that one day we will live in an Alzheimer’s free world.
|Michele Rella and Sarah Ferguson|
Since the Rita Hayworth Gala began in 1984 more than $70 million has been raised for research, a remarkable milestone. The dinner, underwritten by Rolex, included socialites and philanthropists: Margo and John Catsimatidis, Jonathan and Somers Farkas, Michele Herbert, Sarah Ferguson, Zang Toi, Sharon Bush, Nurit Kahane, Robert Verdi, Wendy Williams, Paola and Arnie Rosenshein, Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney, Paula and Tony Peck and so many others.
|Oscar Plotkin and Sharon Bush|
Alzheimer’s is a disease that has touched the lives of so many, including Rita Hayworth who started to deteriorate in her 40’s but was not diagnosed until 1981, after suffering for decades before that. Her daughter, Yasmin Aga Khan, the General Chair and Founder, told me she became active in 1981 when there were just a couple of people, currently evolving into a major global organization.
|Suzanne Murphy and Michele Herbert|
Tonight, emcee and actress Sarah Rafferty, said that Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. with one in six women over the age of 60 developing the disease as opposed to one in eleven who get breast cancer, costing taxpayers $18 million per hour.
|Al Trena, Louise Kornfeld, Ethel Gittlin and Suzanne Murphy|
Karyn Kornfeld, gala chair, then reiterated the seriousness of the disease, stating that some of the ways to prevent Alzheimer’s were eating a heart healthy diet low in saturated fats, engaging in exercise, avoiding smoking, and keeping your mind active.
|Jay McInerney and Diandra Douglas|
A lady who keeps her mind very active is CEO of HSN Mindy Grossman who has been at HSN for ten years, previously holding stints at Nike and Ralph Lauren. Grossman, whose mother suffered from dementia, loves her job because she “gets to bring brands to life.”
|Somers Farkas and Mark Simone|
She introduced honoree and President of HSN Bill Brand as a co-conspirator and someone she spends more time with than her husband. Grossman presented the Rita Hayworth Award to Brand, who helped HSN raise one million dollars for the disease and said he was hopeful it would be eradicated.
|Gary Bruce Bettman Commissioner of the National Hockey League,
and Honoree and Hockey Player Brendan Shanahan
Another award recipient, former NHL player Brendan Shanahan, who is a dead ringer for Kevin Costner, and is the only player in the history of the National Hockey League to score 600 goals and record 2,000 penalty minutes spoke lugubriously about his father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.
|Nurit Kahane, Karin Reza and Paola Bacchini|
When Brendan was just 14 and his mad rush to make it to the NHL so his father would be able to recognize his achievement. Unfortunately, Brendan didn’t enter the NHL until the age of 18 when his father’s cognitive abilities were long gone. Brendan’s father died when Brendan was just 20 and his father was 59.
|Margo and John Catsimatidis|
After all these sad stories were recounted, a live auction was held where tickets for “Beauty and the Beast” were bid on for $5,000 with two bidders getting the prize for a total of $10,000. Furthermore, a Domingo Zapata painting with a value of $50,000 was auctioned for just $14,000, an unfortunate occurrence when the proceeds go to charity. Thankfully, an Ed Ruscha one-of-a-kind jacket was bought for $26,000, allowing the lucky visitor to schedule a private visit to Ruscha’s studio in Los Angeles.
|President of HSN and Honoree Bill Brand|
After the conclusion of the “business portion” of the evening, guests were treated to a delectable Cipriani vanilla cake and music by “The Elements.” Yasmin Aga Khan, in a green Naeem Khan bridal outfit, danced up a storm with fellow socialites Louise Kornfeld and Paola Bacchini. Guest were handed goody bags containing potato chips, perfume and moisturizer-all perfect antidotes to the brisk, inclement weather.
– Lieba Nesis