Report, interviews and photos by Ibrahim Dabo
New York City, New York—The Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation (CCBF) hosted its annual “Breakthrough Ball” benefit gala on Wednesday evening, Oct. 27, 2010 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Proceeds from this benefit help to provide much needed support for children suffering from cancer and blood diseases at the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology of New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Katie Couric, anchor and managing editor, CBS Evening News With Katie Couric and Correspondent, 60 Minutes, was presented with the “Key to Life” award; while Trent Tucker, NBA Champion/Founder of The Trent Tucker Non Profit Foundation; and legendary singer/songwriter Daryl Hall were honored with the “Breakthrough Spirit” awards.
“The funds raised tonight will enable us to treat the large number of uninsured children who visit our clinic each day,” said Les J. Lieberman, Chairman, CCBF, adding that no child is ever turned away for services.
He gave a detailed account of the organization’s programs and some of the amazing discoveries “revolutionary researchers” found in its laboratories.
The funds help address urgent needs such as medication, chemotherapy and other life-saving treatments for the children.
In an exclusive interview with Ib’s Blog, Lieberman said, “I’m overwhelmed by the fact that every seat in the house was filled and that artists like Daryl Hall and celebrities like Katie Couric would come out and support us for this great cause.
“Trent Tucker, a major champion athlete—and everybody is pulling together—I thought his speech about team work and how everybody needs to pull together as a team to cure cancer [is important] and I think that that is what you saw tonight.”
Lieberman spoke about the worthiness of the cause saying, “It is very, very important because if you don’t get funding for research and treating kids that don’t have insurance, kids won’t get treated and we’ll never come up with cures. There is just not enough money that the government has to fund these types of programs.”
Katie Couric, during her award acceptance speech said, “It is an incredible honor to be recognized by such a distinguished ally in the fight against cancer.”
Couric said the fight against cancer has been a very personal one for her. In 1997, her husband Jay Monahan was diagnosed with colon cancer and died nine months later.
“Obviously, that was a life-shattering experience for my family and for Jay’s family as well,” Couric said.
She said few years later her older sister Emily Couric, who was a state senator in Virginia, was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died tragically in October 2001.
Ronald J. Iervolino, president, CCBF, and also Managing Director of Guggenheim Capital Markets, said for the past 26 years, his daughter has been a patient at the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology of New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
“And over that time,” said Iervolino during his speech, “the doctors, nurses, scientists, [and] social workers, all supported by the CCBF have been amazing.
“I’m not sure if I ever could to explain to you how difficult it is having a child with a life threatening disease.
“I know I can never explain how it feels to live in constant fear of a horrible disease like my daughter and so many of the patients,” Iervolino added, while expressing gratitude for the support, generosity, friendship and love that has been shown to him and his family [especially his daughter] during these many years.
Iervolino told Ib’s Blog in an exclusive interview that support has played a key role over the last two decades.
“As I said in my little brief speech, as a father of a patient at the hospital, I am overwhelmed by all the support and generosity that my friends and family have shown over the years and it never ceases to amaze me, year after year,” Iervolino said.
“I’ve been involved with the hospital for 26 years and it’s just a wonderful feeling and I have been blessed with the family and friends that I have, so I feel very fortunate.”
Sharing a few comments after receiving his award, Trent Tucker, (NBA Champion/Founder of The Trent Tucker Non Profit Foundation), said, “I’ve been very lucky to play on a team that was good enough to win a championship. And I understand also it’s a very special place to be.
“But tonight, achieving this award from this great foundation tops the championship that I won in 1993.”
In an exclusive interview with Ib’s Blog, Tucker spoke about what the award means to him.
“This means a whole lot,” Tucker told Ib’s Blog, adding that, “anytime to be honored in an event like this, and having a chance to be a part of a foundation like this, this is as special as it can be.”
Tucker said he started the Trent Tucker Non Profit Foundation in 1998 “with a mission to promote early college awareness to middle school kids, after-school programs, to provide resources, to give them opportunities, to give them a sense of hope that post secondary education can be theirs if they apply themselves the right way.”
Tucker reminded other successful athletes to build on their achievements by helping others in need.
“I always say that there was always somebody there for us when we were coming up. Somebody was there to give us the chance and the only way I believe that you can pass that knowledge on is by helping somebody else, give them a chance as well.”
“I’m here in support of Trent Tucker,” former NBA player Clifford Robinson told Ib’s Blog in an exclusive interview.
“Trent has always been instrumental with his charity foundation and giving back to children who are in need so when I had the opportunity to come here and show some support, I jumped on.”
Daryl Hall gave a special live performance during the gala while actor Charles Grodin returned as the Master of Ceremonies.
Click on album below for Gala photos by Ibrahim Dabo.
|The Breakthrough Ball|