- A glittering crowd filled the baronial halls of the landmark New York Athletic Club
at the National Meningitis Association (NMA) annual "Give Kids a Shot Gala
," a benefit to save lives on April 23, 2012, to salute those on the front line in the fight against meningitis, a vaccine preventable deadly disease that has taken the lives of thousands of our children and cost many to lose limbs.
Looks like emcee Richard Thomas got fresh with Dr. Ruth Westheimer. (Photo: Tom Fitzgerald and Pamela Napoli/Society-In-Focus)
Over cocktails in the majestic grand room guests pored over the incredibly diverse offerings in the silent auction which ranged from fantastic trips to rare wines to one-of- a-kind experiences. On a jumbo screen, photographs of loved ones lost to the disease flickered quietly.
and Gary Springer
co-chaired the Gala. Honorary Chairs were Ambassador John L. Loeb
, Jr. and Sharon Handler
Loeb with Para Olympic Gold Medalist Nick Springer
a quadruple amputee who survived the deadly disease. Matthew Klarberg and Errol Rappaport
were auction co-chairs.
Following the cocktail reception, guests poured into the dining hall for a sumptuous dinner and welcomes by NMA president Lynn Bozof
and the evening's emcee longtime NMA supporter Emmy
Award winning actor Richard Thomas
who brought his unique charm, humor and compassion to the evening.
Thomas introduced two-time Tony Award
winner James Naughton
who with several of the city's best musicians performed a winning set of tunes from his cabaret act. Naughton scored with the romantic "Beware My Foolish Heart" and had the audience in stitches with his infectious "Mr. Bassman" medley in which he squeezed in some 11 vintage tunes from "Blue Moon" to "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" never missing a bomp-de-bomp or a rama-lama-ding-dong with his rich bass!
Honoree Miss Teen USA Danielle Doty and Alana Galloway. (Photo: Tom Fitzgerald and Pamela Napoli/Society-In-Focus)
Following dinner and the performance were the NMA Awards given to a select group who are in the forefront of educating the community and the government of the pressing need for vaccinating all children as early as possible.
Activists Jeri Acosta
and Jeri Greenwell
who received the Moms on Meningitis Award both moved the audience to tears as each recounted the loss of a beloved son that led them to become unrelenting activists in their home states and across the country.
Southampton actress, model, and philanthropist Sara Herbert-Galloway
and her fiancé sports and entertainment business manager Barry Klarberg
, of Monarch Wealth & Business Management whose clients include Justin Timberlake
, Russell Simmons
, Charlie Sheen
, received the Nancy Ford
Springer Inspiration Award for their long standing support of NMA. Gary Springer and his son Nick Springer on video presented the award to the couple. Galloway's teen children Justin and Alana Galloway
by her side have been teen Ambassadors for NMA for the last two years.
Kedakai Lipton and supermodel Carol Alt. (Photo: Tom Fitzgerald and Pamela Napoli/Society-In-Focus)
Chad Hoover of Sanofi-Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi- Aventis Group, the largest company in the world devoted entirely to human vaccines, accepted NMA's Health Achievement Award on behalf of his company.
Not present, but helping to spread the word, Honorary Committee member Charlie Sheen on set in Los Angeles, tweeted about the gala throughout the weekend to his 7+ million Twitter follower reminding them that April 24 was World Meningitis Awareness Day.
Among the guests were supermodels Carol Alt
and Bonnie Pfeifer
, Dr. Ruth Westheimer
, James Lipton
and wife Kedakai Lipton
, actress Christine DeLisle, hot young designer Berry Brown
, veteran actors Joe Sirola
and Monique Van Vooren
, Daisi Sepulveda (Mrs. Ethnic World International 2012 and herself a meningitis survivor), Danielle Doty Miss Teen USA, award winning playwright, director and actress Kenyetta Lethridge
and her producer Diana Zollicoffer, Mary Sliwa, David Hryck
, Rod Filbert and Judy Gilbert
, Lucia Hwong Gordon
, Ida Liu, Dr Howard Sobel
and Gayle Perry Sobel, Cassandra Seidenfeld
, philanthropist Jean Shafiroff
, NMA Board Members Lynn Bozof (President), Lori Buher (NMA director), and Leslie Maier
(Secretary), and several young survivors of the dreaded disease including Jamie Shanbaum who developed devastating bacterial meningitis. Shanbaum lost both legs and several fingers. Her case led to the passage of a law in Texas named for her requiring vaccination to protect students.
Tony Award winner James Naughton had the audience in stitches. (Photo: Tom Fitzgerald and Pamela Napoli/Society-In-Focus)
The star studded Honorary Committee included supermodel Carol Alt, Michael Badalucco
, Lynn Grossman
, Bob Balaban
, Steve Buscemi
, U.S. Senator Susan Collins
, Judy Gilbert and Rod Gilbert
, Adam Graves
, Amy Madigan
and Ed Harris
, Lainie Kazan
, Felicity Huffman
and William H. Macy
, Mark Messier
, Congressman Michael Michaud
, Lauren Mirra and BMX Moto Cross Champion Dave Mirra, James Naughton, Bart Oates and Michelle Oates
, Heather Randall
, Susan Sarandon
, Mrs. World Ethnic International 2012 Daisy Pollard Sepulveda, Joe Sirola, Charlie Sheen, U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe
, and Liv Ullman
Medical Committee included Richard Besser
News; Paul Offit M.D. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Nancy Snyderman
News; Dr. Roger W. Yurt
Chief of Burn Surgery, NY Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center
During the 1990's, there was a significant increase in the number of adolescents and young adults killed or disabled by meningococcal meningitis; young people who were seemingly healthy, vibrant and often athletic. Most of the families were unaware of a vaccine that could have saved their children's lives or anguish. The National Meningitis Association (NMA), a non-profit organization, was formed in 2002 by parents whose children were killed or disabled by meningitis. Since then, NMA has created educational programs that reach millions of people each year with information about available immunizations and disease symptoms and thoughtful, comprehensive support programs for families devastated by the ravages of the disease. For more information visit www.nmaus.org