The daunting threat of a strong storm headed to the East Coast was no match to the strong will and determination of the FACES community. Monday, March 3rd, was a memorable and inspiring evening for the nearly 800 guests who converged at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers to attend the 2014 FACES Gala and salute Dr. Temple Grandin, distinguished professor, inventor, best-selling author and well-respected authority in the fields of animal science and autism education.
Leading the charge in welcoming everyone were Gala Chairs, Katie and Todd Boehly, and Dr. Orrin Devinsky, FACES founder and Director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU. Guests traveled from all over the country and around the globe, as far as Hong Kong. This year’s gala had its share of “dynamic duos” - David Remnick, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and Brian Williams, of NBC Nightly News, lent their inimitable wit and incredible talents as co-emcees; mother-and-daughter duo of Carol Pressler and Lauri Herman served as Auction Co-Chairs; and mother-and-son team of William and Elisa Moller served as voices of grateful patients and families who have benefited from everyone’s generosity. C. Hugh Hildesley of Sotheby’s proved to be master of his craft as the evening’s remarkable auctioneer.
Dr. Robert I. Grossman, Dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center, delivered the welcome remarks and expressed his gratitude on behalf of NYU Langone Medical Center to the FACES community’s medical professionals and devoted individual and corporate supporters. Dr. Devinsky’s keynote address echoed Dean Grossman’s sentiments, by extending grateful appreciation on behalf of FACES and the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center to everyone who contributed in making the gala a tremendous success, especially gala underwriters Leah and Michael Weisberg. Dr. Devinsky also shared this past year’s notable accomplishments and on-going and future research endeavors, programs and services.
The evening’s highest point was the tribute to honoree, Dr. Temple Grandin. Special guest, renowned neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks, CBE, joined Dr. Devinksy at the podium to introduce Dr. Grandin. Named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010, Dr. Grandin eloquently delivered her acceptance remarks. She was presented with a “cow painting,” in recognition of her inspiring work as a proponent of animal welfare. New records were achieved with the Live Auction and Live Appeal. This year, for the first time, FACES introduced an “online” auction component in lieu of the on-site silent auction, making the vast collection of over 350 items accessible to a wider audience. Bidding was feverish for the unique and exclusive auction packages that went on the block for the live auction, and the same was true for the online auction.
Past years’ gala supporters who could not attend were thrilled with the opportunity to “virtually” be a part of the gala through the online auction. Overall, the combined proceeds from the auction and live appeal amounted to $825,000, reflecting a 24% increase from the previous year. An equally important highlight of the occasion was the official launch of the brand new FACES video (visit www.nyufaces.org  to watch the video) that was generously underwritten and produced by FACES Advisory Board member, Veronica Mainetti.
The FACES Gala is the major source of funds that provide for mission delivery programs and services, which include cutting-edge research, education, and community-building initiatives. To date, FACES Gala 2014 has raised over $4.8 million.