Mother of the Year
Looking north along Sixth Avenue. 10:30 PM.

The American Cancer Society, New York City chapter held its annual Mother of the Year luncheon at the St. Regis Roof yesterday, honoring international fashion designer Carolina Herrera. Muffie Potter Aston, now mother of twins, came out of gala benefit retirement to co-chair the event with Aileen Mehle. Honorary Chairman was Laura Bush who couldn’t be there because she was in India with her husband the President, and Honorary Co-Chair was Libby Pataki who couldn’t be there because she was with her husband, the governor who is recovering in the hospital from a burst appendix.

Muffie Potter Aston

Mrs. Pataki’s absence was noticed because she has attended every year, has been an honoree herself (in 1995), and often introduced the honoree. She’s an excellent public speaker, low-key but with a very relatable manner that has a lot of impact.

Diana Feldman who is chairman of the Special Events Volunteer Committee New York City, opened the luncheon with some words about the progress the American Cancer Society has made.

The American Cancer Society made its first grants for research 60 years ago. Led by a volunteer who went on to become one of the most distinguished citizens of the city, Mary Lasker, the ACS committed $1 million to the research effort. That was an enormous amount of money in those days. The federal government was spending $750,000 annual on all of its cancer programs.

In all the years since then, the American Cancer Society has raised and spent $3 billion on their programs and funded 19,843 individuals investigators. Today, the federal government’s spending on cancer programs is around $5 billion annually and the ACS invests approximately $100 million with primary focus on scientists just starting their research careers – beginning investigators who are not likely to get federal funding.

It’s been a long hard road with a great battle still ahead, but because of Mrs. Lasker’s early impact, that inspired so many to build on it, there has been great success. 38 ACS researchers have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. The ACS has been involved in many of the major cancer research breakthroughs of the past century. For example: There is now an 80% 5 year survival rate for many childhood leukemias; there is the pap smear crusade to detect cervical cancer, mammography to detect breast cancer, lumpectomy and radiation for breast cancer, the PSA teset for prostate cancer screening, 5-FU (chemotherapy for colon cancer, identification of smoking as a cause of lung cancer – are only a few examples of the enormous progress that has been made.

One of the proudest endeavors of the New York City Chapter of the ACS has been the establishment of Hope Lodge, a residential facility for people with cancer who come from out of town for treatment. This facility, which in many ways resembles the Ronald McDonald House which assists families of children with cancer, provides free lodging for families when a member is here for treatment.

Ambassador Brenda Johnson and Diana Feldman

The “Mother of the Year” luncheon has become a major event in New York, bringing out a lot of women in the social set, in business and in media who support the ACS. The flowers on the tables are donated afterwards to the patients’ room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. The stuff animals that decorated the tables are donated to the kids at Ronald McDonald House. This year the luncheon raised $250,000 for the cause.

In the crowd: Martha Kramer, Ursula Striker, US Ambassador to Jamaica the Honorable Brenda Johnson, Charlotte and Anne Ford, Hilary Califano, Joanne De Guardiola, Mary McFadden, Ann Dexter-Jones, Susan Fales-Hill, Somers White Farkas, Gigi Benson, Rachel Hovnanian, Patricia Patterson, Reinaldo Herrera who was there with the honoree of course, their daughter Patricia Lansing; Lee Thaw, Barbara Tober, Sharon Handler, Topsy Taylor, Duane Hampton who is just back from India; Heather Randall (whose daughters were part of the presenation), Judy Sullivan, Barbara Winston and her daughter Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Matilda Cuomo, Kitty McKnight, Mariana Kaufman, Pamela Fiori, Kimberly Rockefeller, Cetie Ames, Coco Kopelman, Gloria Schiff, Barbie Bancroft, Dennis Basso, Gene Pressman, Giorgio Damiani who donated an important piece of jewelry for the raffle (it was won by Charlotte Ford) and flew in from Italy to be present; Aileen Mehle, Claudia Cohen, Peggy Siegal, Jamee Gregory, Emilia Fanul, Alejandra Cicognani, Dr. Patricia Wexler (who donated some of her magic potion lotion for the goody bag) Sharon Baum, Kathy Sloane, Ralph Destino, Lana Forstmann, Richard Feldman, Bob Colacello, Julie Minskoff, Paul Wilmot, Bettina and Donna Zilkha, CeCe Black, Samantha Boardman, Harriet Cohen, Annie Churchill, Ann Colley, Linda Lambert, Georgette Mosbacher, and Wendy Hornick – to name only a few.

Joanne de Guardiola, Muffie Potter Aston, and Rachel Hovnanian
Anne Jones and Mary McFadden
Barbara Winston and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff
Mary Hilliard and the gals
Mariana Kaufman and Kitty McKnight
Gloria Schiff and Pat Patterson
Anne Ford and Hilary Califano
Crystal McCrary Anthony and Susan Fales-Hill
Wendy Hornick and Giorgio Damiani
Charlotte Ford
Topsy Taylor
Kathy Sloane
Duane Hampton
Pamela Fiori and Carolina Herrera

March 2, 2006, Volume VI, Number 38
Photographs by DPC/


Click here for Today's Party Pictures
Click here
for NYSD Contents


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/