Gary and Nancy Springer never expected their athletic son to end up in a wheelchair when they sent him off to summer camp. But, that summer, an emergency call sent them to their 14 -year-old’s bedside. He had contracted a rare form of meningitis while hiking. He survived, but he lost all his limbs. From that moment, Gary, a publicist whose late father had represented Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to the media, and his wife Nancy, devoted themselves to Nick’s care, and later to the task of spreading awareness of the vaccine. When Nick was out of the woods, Nancy helped found the National Meningitis Association, to “Give Kids A Shot.”
Nick went on to become a Paralympic Gold Medalist for Wheelchair Rugby (“Murder Ball”) for team USA in Beijing. On his way home, he lost his mother, Nancy, to cancer. Her dream, to create a National Meningitis Event, was fulfilled the following spring, in 2009. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” remembers Sara Herbert-Galloway, who has chaired the gala since that night.
She had met Gary through the Hamptons International Film Festival, which he was representing, in 2006. Knowing her commitment to charitable endeavors, their mutual friend Errol Rappaport recruited her to help create a NMA gala.
That was just one of many contributions Errol made to support the cause. After all,
he and Gary “had been running around since 1978,” Nick told the room, of the two men who met as young actors. This year, Rappaport received the Nancy Ford Springer Inspiration Award. Also receiving awards: Richard Besser, MD, Chief Health and Medical Editor, ABC News, and Carol Tufano, who saw her daughter through the disease.
Lynn Bozof is Board President; Lori Buher, Board Director; Leslie Maier, Board Secretary/Treasurer. Sara Herbert-Galloway, Lenore Cooney, and Gary Springer were Gala Chairs; Amabassador and Mrs John L. Loeb, Jr. and Nick Springer served as Gala Honorary Chairs. Barry Klarberg, Ulrika “Red” Nilsson, and Heike Vogel were Vice Chairs.
It’s a family effort for Herbert-Galloway and Klarberg, whose relationship began with the shared experience. They had just met when Sara invited Gary to the benefit with an email including Nick’s photo. “He had been Nick’s hockey coach on a team in Westchester with Barry’s son,” she remembers. “When he saw Barry, Nick smiled and said, ‘Coach.’ It brought tears to my eyes.” Nick’s hockey buddy Matt Klarberg now serves as Auction Chair with Errol. Justin and Alana Galloway are teen health advocates for NMA. “So we’re passing the torch onto the next generation.”