Friday, May 22, 2020. Another fine sunny day, yesterday in New York, with temps in the high 60s, dropping down to the mid 50s by late night. I just realized while writing this that it’s Memorial Day Weekend coming up. This is a memorable weekend in America and from the looks of it, it’s going to be another memorable weekend in country’s history. In what way, I can’t imagine because memories change color like everything else over time.
One thing this weekend represents — aside from its inception which is largely forgotten three generations after the Second World War — is looking forward to the Summer months which for millions have been vacation-time or some kind of rest or, if you’re young, opportunity and freedom.
Here in New York you can feel “the natives are restless,” as we’ve been reporting for the past few weeks. The New York Post came right out with it on its headline/page. The times “they are a-changing”…. Just as they have been sometimes daily throughout this pandemic. Let’s hope this coming holiday weekend will be our gateway to more good news.
More good news. In yesterday’s Diary I wrote about the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s annual Hot Pink Party (which is now the Hot Pink Evening — more times a-changing) this past Wednesday night.
I watched it with anticipation, knowing it was going to happen (the virtual part), I couldn’t imagine how they’d reproduce the vast ballroom of enthusiasm for the principals, the entertainment and the evening itself that we have been used to for years.
Public philanthropic events each have their own special mood of interest and excitement, and that comes from the presence of the guests. How you put that on a small screen in someone’s living room and make the viewer feel like a guest? Answer: you don’t. You do something entirely different. You take the show and put it in everyone’s living room.
If I were to criticize, I would have made it twice in length. Because it was such a wonderful evening, in my home, by myself. Enjoying the company, the message, the songs, the laughs, the speeches; everything was an ace. Oh, one other criticism: if it were national millions of Americans could have had a great time and learned something important, and got an inkling of better times head.
The unforgettable evening raised over $5.2 million to support BCRF’s global legion of leading scientists pursuing high-impact breast cancer research that is saving lives, even in the midst of the current global crisis. Breast cancer does not stop for COVID-19, and neither will BCRF, thanks to the generous support of donors who are helping ensure that the organization’s vital work will continue without losing ground.
Guests were treated to a stirring opening number featuring Norbert Leo Butz singing “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story. A blockbuster Broadway tribute to breast cancer survivor and current Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez featured Lin-Manuel Miranda, Laura Benanti, Krysta Rodriguez, Tituss Burgess, Tommy Kail, Alex Lacamoire, Judy Kuhn, James Monroe Iglehart, Sierra Boggess, and many more friends and cast members from In The Heights.
Gonzalez herself offered a stunning performance of “Breathe” from In The Heights. Nile Rodgers and CHIC’s performance of “We Are Family” had viewers tapping their toes as he closed out the evening. The program also featured appearances by Sir Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley, Karlie Kloss, Edie Falco, Rachael Ray, Gretta Monahan, Amy Robach, Joan Lunden, Deborah Norville, Anne Thompson, and many more.
Rachael Ray celebrated her friend Gretta Monahan, who was diagnosed with breast cancer one year ago, telling us: “What’s extraordinary about Gretta is that to have her second child, she had to go through a treatment regimen that she knew would raise her risk greatly for getting breast cancer. And I don’t know the better definition of a mom than someone who fights for their life to give life to someone else. I applaud her in every way there is.”
Professional ballet dancer Maggie Kudirka, who is currently undergoing treatment for stage IV metastatic breast cancer, shared: “I’m that one woman in a hundred thousand to be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer before the age of 25. Since the COVID crisis occurred, cancer patients got a new, new normal.
“Our support system and loved ones are no longer allowed to come with us to treatments and doctor’s appointments. We have to keep our distance from everyone because of our immune system. We have to wear extra protective gear, but we still need our treatments and we are still figuring it out. We as a community are in uncharted waters and we’ll get through this together.”
Then there was Sir Elton John — this time not at the keyboard but what looked like at a table in his home — with a greeting “I’m always honored to support the incredible work of BCRF until the day that we can all celebrate the end of breast cancer, I want you to know, I stand with all of you. We are in this together.”
Honorary Co-chairs for the evening were Judy and Leonard Lauder and Anthony von Mandl. Mr. Lauder spoke to us from the porch in his house in Maine (he was wearing a pink Ralph Lauren buttondown), explaining that he was still under quarantine and looking forward to when it was lifted so he and Mrs. Lauder could come back to New York.
Kinga Lampert and Aerin Lauder were Lead Co-Chairs for the evening. Event Co-Chairs included Sandra Brant, Patsy and Patrick Callahan, Cindy and Rob Citrone, Mary-Ann and Fabrizio Freda, Roslyn Goldstein, Marjorie Reed Gordon, who was watching from Morocco; Dee and Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Shelly and Howard Kivell, Terri and Jerry Kors, Jane Lauder, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Laura and Gary Lauder, Lori Kanter Tritsch and William Lauder, Adrienne and Dan Lufkin, Patricia Quick, Bryan Rafanelli, Lois Robbins and Andrew Zaro, John Rosenwald, Jeanne Sorensen Siegel and Herbert J. Siegel, Arlene Taub, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, Ingrid Vandebosch and Jeff Gordon, Vera Wang, Candace King Weir, and Nina and Gary Wexler.
The event’s Underwriters included Ascena Retail Group Inc., Kinga and Edward Lampert; von Mandl Family Foundation. Benefactors included Firmenich, Roslyn and Leslie Goldstein, Hearst, and Leonard and Judy Lauder Fund. Visionaries included Jody & John Arnhold, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Kendra Scott, Terri and Jerry Kohl, William P. Lauder & Lori Kanter Tritsch, Lufkin Family Foundation, Rafanelli Events, Jeanne Sorensen Siegel & Herbert J. Siegel, Marilyn & Jim Simons, and Candace King Weir.
Photographs by Getty Images/Getty Images for Breast Cancer Research Foundation