Wednesday, 03 June 2009 17:17
Known for its classic grandeur and shimmering with golden décor, the Garden City Hotel was once again host to one of Long Island’s premier events, the Crystal Ball. Attending in support of Honorees Roberta and Bruce Waller, dedicated advocates of the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), more than 350 guests enjoyed the elegant affair, which featured cocktails, fine dining, live music, dancing, and more. According to Gala Chairman Charles Rizzo, this year’s Crystal Ball raised more than $670,000 for the cure-focused work underway at the DRI.
For the Wallers, the evening was full of heart and hope. Their passion for the cause stems from the love of their daughter, Dara, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 20 years ago at age 8. At that time, Roberta’s father, Rowland Schaefer, who is a member of the DRI Foundation’s National Honorary Board and a visionary of the organization, ensured them that the DRI was the best hope for a cure. The family has been staunch supporters ever since.
“I want everyone to know that the dollars they give this evening will go directly to finding a cure for diabetes,” Bruce Waller told the audience.
“It’s so important to find a cure for this disease for children…if not for anything else, then for children,” Roberta Waller added.
Also honored was The Charles Evans Foundation, the recipient of the Gillin Family Humanitarian Award. Charles Evans, who died in 2007, was a prominent philanthropist, co-founder of the fashion house Evan-Picone and a successful film producer whose credits included the acclaimed movie Tootsie, starring Dustin Hoffman.
During the dinner program, led by DRI Foundation Long Island Regional Board Chairman Allan L. Pashcow, DRI’s Dr. Norma Sue Kenyon explained how the Institute is harnessing the power of emerging technologies to develop new cell-based therapies to restore insulin production. She further connected with the crowd by discussing her personal sense of urgency as a scientist and a mother of a teenager with type 1 diabetes.
“What I know is that I drive to the Diabetes Research Institute every day with the single purpose in mind of dedicating myself to focusing on those efforts that will most rapidly advance our efforts to cure diabetes, and I know I am in the right place – working with the right people - to do that,” Dr. Kenyon said.
Touched by her words, the audience responded with generous gifts during the Fund-A-Grant portion of the program, including significant contributions from Roberta and Bruce Waller and family, Martin Granowitz, and Joan and William Fishlinger. Highlights of the live auction, which was led by DRI Foundation Vice President Tom Karlya, included a chance to be a star for the night in Broadway’s longest running comedy, Tony and Tina’s Wedding, a chance to meet Brian Dennehy backstage after watching his performance in Broadway’s Desire Under the Elms, plus an opportunity to spend the day with the Mets during spring training, and more.
Other top sponsors included: Future Leadership Foundation Inc.; Anne & John Doscas; Rooms to Go Children’s Fund; The Donaldson Organization; WRM America; Ahmuty, Demers & McManus; Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP; and The Hatz family. Guests took home fabulous parting gifts, ties and scarves, specifically designed for the occasion with “DRI” and “Cure” emblazoned upon them.
The mission of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation is to provide the Diabetes Research Institute with the funding necessary to cure diabetes now. The Diabetes Research Institute, a center of excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is a recognized world leader in cure-focused research. Since its inception in the early 1970s, the DRI has made significant contributions to the field of diabetes research, pioneering many of the techniques used in islet transplantation. The DRI is now building upon these achievements by bridging cell-based therapies with emerging technologies to restore insulin production. For the millions of families already affected by diabetes, the Diabetes Research Institute is the best hope for a cure. Visit www.DiabetesResearch.org or call 800-321-3437 for more information.