Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NARSAD, Autism Speaks, The Links

Greater New York Links Chapter Members at the 58th annual Easter luncheon
NARSAD: The Mental Health Research Association, in concert with the International Partnership for Mental Health Research, held its fourth annual “Mission Possible” gala at the Canadian Embassy in Washington to raise funds for research on mental illnesses and to honor two exceptional individuals who have contributed so much to the mentally ill – Representative Patrick J. Kennedy and the late Art Buchwald.

The event was also intended to help draw focus to the impact of mental disorders and to herald increased international cooperation on research into the causes, treatments, and cures for these mysterious diseases.  The Canadian Embassy agreed to serve as the event venue in recognition of the strong level of Canada-U.S. research cooperation that exists today. 

Heidi Crossley and Kirsten Rabaut
The highlight of the evening is the presentation of NARSAD’s annual Wellstone Leadership Award, named in honor of the late two-term Senator from Minnesota.  Senator Wellstone, often described as “the conscience of the Senate”, worked tirelessly throughout his career for defenseless and forgotten citizens such as those stricken with critically disabling mental illnesses.  NARSAD is proud to announce that this year’s awards have been designated to Representative Kennedy of Rhode Island, and to Mr. Buchwald, the renowned columnist and humorist who died earlier this year in Washington.

Mike Wallace of CBS’s “60 Minutes” presented the award to Representative Kennedy and deliverd a posthumous tribute to his late friend Mr. Buchwald.  CNN’s Frank Sesno emceed. 

For more information about brain and behavioral disorders, and about some of the latest research being conducted on them by NARSAD-supported scientists, visit
Ken and Charlene Devansky with Robert M. Pestronk
U.S. Representative Sue Myrick, Joel Buchwald, and Sheila Rabaut
Patsy and Hal Hollister with Sheila Rabaut
Frank Sesno, Wendy Adeler Hall, Mike Wallace, Sue Myrick, and Sheila Rabaut
Mike Wallace, Joel Buchwald, Tamara Buchwald, Sheila Rabaut, and Frank Sesno
Roy Norton
Tamara Buchwald and Kathy Crary
U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy and Patricia Ryan
Joel Buchwald
U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy
Tom Rabaut, Katie McCall, Tim Cook, and Kate Boyce
Kristen Rabaout and Charlene Devansky
Patrick Kennedy making the rounds

The Links, Greater New York Chapter, held its 58th Annual Easter Luncheon and Fashion Show, two Saturdays ago at the Chelsea Piers – Pier Sixty. The 2007 “Links to Good Health” honorees were Dionne Polite, Senior Marketing Director, Outreach Programs and Volunteer Development, Greater New York Market, American Diabetes Association; the Health Advocate Award. The other honoree was Esther Silver-Parker, Senior Vice President of Diversity Relations, Wal-Mart Stores, Corporate Award.
Earl Heron, Norris Francis, Attah-jundwe Obiajulu, Nelson Jean, Earl Arrington, and Bilal Hill
The luncheon was chaired by Betty King Obiajulu, co-chaired by Patricia J. Francis, Marcella Maxwell and Anna Ponder. The Fashion Show was produced by Noel Brogan Productions and the proceeds benefit Women’s Health Resource Center at North General Hospital, American Diabetes Association Scholarship Program for Women.
Luncheon Chair Betty King Obiajulu, honoree Dionne Polite, and Greater New York Chapter President Minta Spain
Kristie Patton, honoree LaChanze, and honoree Esther Silver Parker
A Noel Brogan model
Standing: Robin Verges, Bruce Nilson, Heather Matthews, Victoria Mason-Ailey. Seated: Audrey Bernard, Mary Truesdale, Sonya Brown, and Myrah Brown-Green
Hasoni Pratts and Audrey Thorne
Betty King Obiajulu, Minta Spain, honoree LaChanze, and Grace Ingleton
Minta Spain, Gerri Warren-Merrick, Hazel Dukes, Marita Green Monroe, and Laura Blackburne
Noel Brogan models
Adero-Zaire Green and her mother Dr. Myrah Brown-Green
Ketley Michel and C. Virginia Fields
Natatia Griffith, Gladys Barnes, and Delores Dixon
Hazel Dukes, Coreen Simpson, and Diane Stevens Liotta
More Greater New York Links
Linda Burrell and Virginia Arrington
Rev. Dr. Elaine Flake leads the luncheon in prayer
Betty King Obiajulu, Patricia Durrant, Yvette Clarke, Faye Rodney, Marcella Maxwell, Hon. Jessica Odle, Consul General from Barbados, and Hon. Cynthia Brown Franklin, Consul General from Panama

1. Barbara Tober
2. Iris Apfel
3. Ann Grimm
4. Gena Rowlands
5. Helen O'Hagan
6. Dr. Ruth
7. Georgette Mosbacher
8. Anne Slater


The Concert for Autism Speaks was a star-filled evening of comedy and music headlined by legendary entertainer Bill Cosby and six-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Toni Braxton. They raised more than $1.4 million for Autism Speaks, the nation’s leading advocacy organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research. This is a big big problem and growing everyday. There is much to learn and much to do; it is crucial.

Proceeds from the Concert for Autism Speaks will go toward examining potential environmental causes of autism, as well as research into treatments for autism. 

Tom Brokaw emceed at Frederick P. Rose Hall -- home of Jazz at Lincoln Center -- in New York City and featured a special surprise performance by acclaimed singer-songwriter Michael McDonaldJerry Seinfeld, Russell Simmons, the cast of “Saturday Night Live” and “All MyChildren’s” Leven Rambin, who portrays an individual with autism, were among those in attendance.  

“Autism is a disorder that is robbing families of the chance to fulfill their dreams and experience the everyday joys most of us take for granted,” said Cosby.  "For example, many children with autism are very limited in their ability to develop warm relationships with others, including their parents.  We all need to do our part so that, with our help, these families will finally get the answers they so desperately seek.”

“When autism became a part of my family’s reality, I was determined to join Autism Speaks in its battle against this devastating disorder that is impacting thousands of families,” said Braxton, who is currently headlining in a long-term engagement at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.  The mother of two children, one of whom has autism, went on to say, “So much progress is being made on all fronts – from the laboratory to Capitol Hill -- but all of us must continue to fight until we have found the cause and a cure for autism.

“We are incredibly grateful to Bill and Toni for lending their remarkable talents to us for this truly memorable evening,” said Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks.
Lorne Michaels
Bob and Suzanne Wright with Bill Cosby
About Autism

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of the growing autism epidemic and to raising money to fund scientists who are searching for a cure.  It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright.  Bob Wright is Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, General Electric, and Chairman, NBC Universal.  Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now (CAN) recently announced plans to combine operations, bringing together the two leading organizations dedicated to accelerating and funding biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increasing awareness of the nation’s fastest growing developmental disorder; and to advocating for the needs of affected families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit
Bob and Suzanne Wright, Co-Founders, Autism Speaks
Leven Rambin
Bernie and Billi Marcus
Len and Jill Berman
Al Roker
Suzanne Wright and Toni Braxton
Kristen Wiig and Kenan Thompson
Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis
Bob ans Suzanne Wright with Jill and Len Berman
Joe Pantoliano
Master of Ceremonies Tom Brokaw
Maya Rudolph and Seth Meyers
Jane Krakowski

Photographs by Washington Life Magazine (NARSAD)
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