Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Motherhood and Fatherhood

Looking west across the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. 8:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016. A warm, Indian summer, sunny day, yesterday in New York with temps hovering around 80 and no humidity.
This past Monday, The American Cancer Society, New York chapter hosted its 21st annual Mothers of the Year Awards Luncheon at the St. Regis Roof. They honored Laura Forese MD, actress Karen Walsh; and In Loving Memory of Suzanne Wright.

This is a very popular luncheon that my friend Diana Feldman has been working on and co-chairing for as long as I can remember. This year she was co-chair with Cricket Burns and Ambassador Brenda L. Johnson.  Vice Chairs were Blythe Danner, Robert Downey MD, Charlotte Ford, Diane Forese, James Forese, Frances J. Frawley, Louise Merriman, Lily Safra, Jayne Sosland-Swersky, Bob Wright, Katie Wright and Maggie Wright. There is also a huge benefit committee that brings out the best too, filling the room and raising the goals, as well as attending.  What originally was mainly a ladies lunch now has a large percentage of men attending.
The Mothers of the Year Awards.
Paula Zahn was Mistress of Ceremonies, empathic. This is not a festive affair, considering the subject matter, but thanks to Diana, her co-chairs and the honorees, it’s very touching, forward looking and brings out the best in everyone attending, so it’s a pleasure.

Suzanne Wright would have been honoree in life but she died this past July of pancreatic cancer. She was a major advocate for autism and co-founder in 2005 with her husband Bob Wright of Autism Speaks, after their grandson  was diagnosed with autism.

Since its founding with the Wrights’ guidance, Autism Speaks has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. Mrs. Wright’s devotion to the subject led to the United Nations establishing April 2nd as World Autism Day calling for all nations and faiths to “walk next to the 70 million children, teens and adults with autism around the world everyday."
Bob Wright.
Besides her work with autism, Mrs. Wright and her husband had long been involved in community and philanthropic endeavors mainly focused on helping children. Seeing and hearing Mr. Wright, along with his son and daughters speak at the luncheon, one could understand their grief and great loss as well as their devotion to the issues before them and the rest of us.

Dr. Forese is Executive Vice President and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian with operational responsibility which comprises more than $6.5 billion in total operating revenue and 3500 hospital beds throughout Manhattan. An orthopedic surgeon herself, graduating summa cum laude and Phi beta Kappa from Princeton, she was also a full-time faculty member for ten years at Columbia University, and mother of three children with her husband Dr. Downey.
Jaime Downey and Meagan Downey.
Dr. Forese is also a breast cancer survivor, and spoke with great affection and gratitude for her father and her late mother who fought the disease for 15 years. Her son and one of her two daughters spoke of a mother who despite her enormous professional responsibilities always comes home to an active family which she is very much a part of daily. One of the outstanding characteristics of these honorees is their wide and dedicated array of responsibilities, family and interests. It’s astounding just to hear about. And all of it is accompanied by an enthusiasm for their lives and the lives of those around them.

The third honoree Karen Walsh is currently standing in for Mary Louise Parker in “Heisenberg on Broadway” at the Manhattan Theatre Club. The mother of two, ages 7 and 3, and married to Todd Rullman, Ms. Walsh was also diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer last year two weeks after her 40th birthday. Ironically at the time she was also producing an American Cancer Society benefit honoring late friend, actor James Rebhorn. During the past year she has approached her chemo treatments creatively, referring to them as “Healing Treatments” and gaining international attention. Her friend Blythe Danner who presented her with her award, spoke with wonder, of Walsh’s enthusiasm as well as with the same enthusiasm. Homes of the brave.
Dr. Robert Downey, Meagan Downey, Dr. Laura Forese, and Jaime Downey.
Todd Rullman, Karen Walsh-Rullman, Bob Walsh, and Anne Walsh.
Christopher James Wright, Maggie Wright, and Catherine Anne Wright.
So despite the grim subject which confronts so many millions of people across the world, the word HOPE remains steadfast in hearts and minds of all of these women and their families. That’s what we left the St. Regis Roof with on Monday afternoon. That an a goodie bag that came in a large Henri Bendel shopping bag heavy with all kinds of gifts and goodies and no doubt organized by our steadfast and always enthusiastic friend and supporter Diana Feldman.
Richard Feldman, Charlotte Ford, and Diana Feldman.
Blythe Danner and Dr. Joseph Ruggiero.
Lisa Manganiello, Matthew Walsh, Karen Walsh-Rullman, Bob Walsh, Todd Rullman, Anne Walsh, Zoe Rullman, and Tate Rullman.
Ronald Rosier and Anne Walsh.
Frances Frawley.
Dana Kendrick and Leslie Hecht.
Paula Zahn and Ann Jurdem. Suzanne Murphy.
Sherrie Pellini.
Helen Dolan, Diana Feldman, Charles Dolan, and Kris Kim.
Gina Nerlino, Lauren Powers, Margaret Boyle, Lucette Tulp, Ellen Hartgers, and Jeanne Arpert.
Lisa Bytner. Therese Hoarty, Karen Walsh-Rullman, and Cyril Verdainne.
Mary Kate Hannan, Camille Glotzbecker, and Ann Radeos.
Tripp Hardy and Paige Rostrom.
Linda Lizak, Betty Crosetto, and Joan Andriani.
Natalie Gold and Matthew Rauch.
Danielle DiMartini and Jamie Parrot.
Arlene Weidberg and Anne Akers.
Monica Kennedy and Carey Davidson. Helen Carey and Brenda Wehle.
Guillaume Gentet, David Carpenter, Monica Kennedy, and Luis Valero.
Ambassador Brenda L Johnson and Monica Kennedy.
Gigi Benson and Ursula Striker.
Jim Fahey, Christiana Fahey, and Betsey Lindberg Fahey.
Susan Lloyd, Patricia Kluge, and Eva Mohr.
Dr. Marianne Legato.
Zoe Rullman and Christa Scott-Reid.
Barbara Cates.
Cricket Burns and fellow ACS supporters.
This just in. Yesterday afternoon Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld hosted GOOD+ Foundation’s 2016 Fatherhood Lunch at The Palm Restaurant in Tribeca. They were celebrating the continued expansion and success of the program which launched six years ago.

The lunch raised nearly $275,000 towards the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to empower dads so they can fully embrace fatherhood and the responsibilities that accompany this role through support in positive parenting and discipline strategies, improving the relationship with the child’s mother, and helping a father establish his role within the family.  Since its inception, GOOD+ Foundation’s Fatherhood Initiative has supported over 20,000 families.

Jerry Seinfeld and Founder and President of GOOD+ Foundation Jessica Seinfeld.
During the lunch Seinfeld described how many fathers who seek help from a fatherhood program don’t have the resources or materials to create the best environment for their families. With the services and products donated by the GOOD+ Foundation, fathers are able to provide for their families and get the long term support needed to help lift the family out of poverty.

“We realized we needed to address the missing component – the fathers. Your father is half of who you are.  They are an important piece of the puzzle. We knew if we could get fathers back into the lives of their kids, we could really stabilize this environment,” he told the guests. “Men are terrible at talking about being a husband and being a father. A gigantic hurdle is encouraging these men talk to each other, share their stories and realize they are not alone. I feel great that I’m able to help other men get into this experience of being a father.”

They also provide families with special opportunities for parent-child bonding and memory-making experiences, in addition to amplifying the fatherhood movement by promoting meaningful fatherhood research and advocating for father engagement. GOOD+ Foundation has distributed nearly 500,000 items to over 20,000 families through 19 father engagement programs.

Guests at the luncheon included Alex Gorsky, David Lauren, GOOD+ Foundation Board Member Stacey Bendet Eisner, GOOD+ Fatherhood Leadership Council members Neil Patrick Harris, David Burtka, Michael Strahan, Jeff Gordon, Will Kopelman, Harry Kargman, Jason Weinberg, along with Sam Champion, Jim Cramer and Nicky Rothschild.
Neil Patrick Harris, David Burtka, Jerry Seinfeld, Jessica Seinfeld, Michael Strahan, and Jeff Gordon.
The GOOD+ Foundation’s Fatherhood Leadership Council is comprised of fathers who are deeply passionate about their own role as dads. Council members include Jerry Seinfeld (Chair), Jason Alexander, Anthony Anderson, Judd Apatow, Jason Bateman, Neil Blumenthal, Bruce Bozzi, Dan Bucantinsky, Rob Buccini, Ty Burrell, David Burtka, Christian Carino, Matt Cherwin, Camille Chidiac, Common, Shawn “Pecas” Costner, Victor Cruz, Matt Damon, Eric Ray Davidson, Robert Downey Jr., Darren Edwards, Eric Eisner, Nacho Figueras, David Fredston, Jeff Gordon, Alex Gorsky, Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin Hart, Alan F. Horn, Hugh Jackman, Mitch Jacobs, Woody Johnson, Harry Kargman, Pierre Kim, Boris Kodjoe, Will Kopelman, Jay Leno, Greg Lipmann, Blaine Lourd, Bryan Lourd, Bill Maher, Gabriel Miller, Francois Mobasser,  Nas, David Neville, Rob Prinz, Michael Richards, Dan Roos, Bob Saget, Matt Schneider, George Shapiro, Dax Shepard, Lance Somerfeld, George Stephanopoulos, Steve Stoute, Michael Strahan, Michael Tiedemann, James Van Der Beek, Dwyane Wade, Marcus Wainwright, Charlie Walk, George Wallace, Jason Weinberg, Mel Woods and Jeffrey Wright.

Photographs by Annie Watt (ACS)

Contact DPC here.