Past events: Gala 2012 and Gala 2011
by Luis Valero
FACES Gala 2012 at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers was the place to be on the evening of Tuesday, March 6th. All of the over 800 guests from the FACES community could not have wished for a more gorgeous evening to hold the event and raise funds for a very special mission - Finding A Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures. The evening was a record-breaking success with more than $5.3 million being raised to support research and community projects at the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Gala chair Amy Pollner Moritz and Dr. Orrin Devinsky, FACES Founder and Director of NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, led the charge in honoring esteemed members of the FACES community: Loretta Brennan Glucksman and Leah and Michael Weisberg. Joining them in saluting the gala’s honorees were members of the FACES Board of Directors, an elite corps of NYU Langone Medical Center’s medical professionals, headed by Dr. Robert I. Grossman, Dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center.
Guests arrived to a welcoming site of greeters and instant excitement at the sight of an abundance of silent auction prizes that lined the entrance hall and stretched all the way to the cocktail reception area. Silent Auction participants had a better opportunity and convenience to select multiple items they wished to go after, without having to circle the room hurriedly. Yes…silent bidding through Apple iTouches were the novel, state-of-the-art gadgets that replaced pens and bid sheets of auctions past. Guests vied for coveted art pieces, jewelry, wines and spirits, sporting event tickets and memorabilia, “must have” designer merchandise, and a wide range of gifts and certificates while enjoying the company of friends. All in all, there were over 300 items but not nearly enough to satiate everyone. An enormous note of gratitude goes to Lenore Cheeseman for chairing the Silent and Live Auctions as well as to members of the Board and the Benefit Committee responsible for securing all the items.
The ballroom was a sight to behold. Votive candles lined the glass panels, illuminating the view of the Hudson River and the night sky. The floral centerpieces of white roses brightened the room and exuded a warm welcome as guests sat at their tables. The dinner program started promptly with welcome remarks delivered by Dean Grossman, immediately followed by his introduction of the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, TV and media personality and award-winning host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart. Mr. Stewart’s incredible charisma and unique wit raised the energy and excitement in the ballroom. He introduced Dr. Devinsky who succinctly shared exciting news and information vital to the FACES community then proceeded with the order of the program by calling to the podium individually, the gala chair and honorees. Each person spoke separately, but expressed the same sentiment of genuine gratitude because “their lives were changed,” thanks to the extraordinary work and dedication of Dr. Devinsky, the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and FACES. Echoes of affirmation reverberated in the ballroom from end to end.
The energy in the room soared further when auctioneer Courtney Booth of Sotheby’s stepped up to start the live auction. Bidding was feverish for the exquisite items put on the block that ranged from enchanting and “uber” exclusive European vacation destinations, Epicurean feasts, and invaluable items for connoisseurs of wines, arts, and entertainment. The live auction’s special highlight was a campaign for funding of research initiatives, particularly a series of studies on SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) to learn more about the disorder and develop strategies to prevent it. As one may have guessed…the response was outstanding!
The excitement about FACES Gala 2012 did not end when the evening ended and guests prepared to leave. Conversations about inspiring speeches and seamless flow of the event, as well as shrieks of excitement by winning bidders, was audible from different corners. On their way out, a sweet ending awaited…a cup of hot cocoa “to go” and a FACES sugar cookie!
March 6th was a truly special and memorable evening, thanks to the inspiring loyalty and generosity of everyone in the FACES community.