November is Gala season in New York City with red carpets and ballgowns at their finest when a philanthropic mission is involved, and this year is no exception. Returning to a live, in-person event to celebrate the breakthrough research in the fight against cancer, more than 700 people attended the aptly themed Together Again event at the iconic Cipriani Wall Street venue.
The evening began with cocktail hour and mingling at a private reception area across from the gala venue. Since making a true entrance is important, guests were ushered from the cocktail hour across the fully closed and carpeted Wall Street which was closed for 30 minutes to let attendees enter safely.
When entering the Cipriani Wall Street building, guests were welcomed by a sea of white-coat waitstaff, standing underneath a 70-foot ceiling and Wedgwood dome in this grand venue. This New York landmark has served as the home of the New York Merchants Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, the United States Customs House and the headquarters of the National City Bank and for this evening, the 24th Annual Collaborating for a Cure Gala.
The night’s programming was guided by CBS’s Chris Wragge and included several monumental presentations and mentions. The Foundation continued its tradition of recognizing the fashion industry’s longtime partnership to fund innovative cancer research presenting this year’s Fashion Cares Award to Debra S. Waller, Chairman and CEO of Jockey International, Inc. Waller, who has been personally impacted by cancer in her family, was selected for her dedication to eradicating cancer and decades of philanthropy and community involvement. The foundation also presented its first Breakthrough Science Award to Dr. Kevan Shokat, from the University of California San Francisco. Shokat, an SWCRF-funded investigator, recently discovered a new compound that effectively inhibits a cancer-causing genetic mutation – the overactive KRAS protein - which is a common driver in lung, colorectal and pancreatic cancers.
“Over the past few decades, we have seen unprecedented advancements in the treatment of cancer, moving away from toxic treatments and developing more tolerable and effective pills such as this new drug,” said Dr. Samuel Waxman, CEO and Founder of SWCRF during his Gala speech. “This is a real game changer and it is a perfect example of why we do what we do – invest long-term in leading scientists and encourage collaboration to save lives.”
During the gala, the foundation also announced a new collaboration with the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai to expand the Foundation’s Aging and Cancer program, which already includes partnerships with the National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Aging, and the Israel Cancer Research Foundation. Additionally, the Foundation is funding breakthrough research to combat breast and ovarian cancers. In the past 10 years, SWCRF has allocated $4 million to its Women’s Cancer Research Program and is currently investing $1,550,000 toward 15 prestigious scientists working on finding new treatments for breast and ovarian cancer.
The evening also included a combo live and online auction with lots that the proceeds will go directly toward the foundation’s mission. The evening concluded with a concert by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit with a special guest, Warren Haynes. In total, the evening raised auction which more than $4 million toward furthering collaborative cancer research programs.
“The past year has been very difficult for all of us,” said William T. Sullivan, executive director of the Foundation. “But the 2021 gala’s return is a true celebration of the scientists that developed these life-saving vaccines as well as the dedicated researchers around the world working tirelessly to combat the other global pandemic: cancer.”