The annual National Meningitis Association (NMA) Give Kids a Shot Gala was once again an emotion filled evening and a stellar success in aiding in the fight against meningitis, a potentially vaccine preventable disease. The Pierre was the stunning setting for this year’s event as hundreds of New York’s notables turned out to support the cause and were thrilled by the knockout performance of Obie Award winning actor/singer Darius de Haas. This year’s Master of Ceremonies was Paul A. Offit, M.D., Chief of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The evening started with guests mingling over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres amid the dazzling array of silent auction gifts from breathtaking jewels to bespoke fashion selections to exotic vacation escapes. Ushered into the grand ballroom of The Pierre for dinner and the NMA 2015 Awards ceremony, attendees enjoyed an evening of four star cuisine, award winning entertainment, and a celebration of four individuals whose tireless and selfless contributions to NMA specifically and to the cause of ending the threat of meningitis in general, particularly in children and young adults, made them this year’s honorees.
Amy Aiken and Kyla Winters presented the Health Achievement Award to Carol J. Baker, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, and Executive Director of Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research at Texas Children’s Hospital; Carl Buher and Karen Crespo presented the T.E.A.M. Outstanding Service Award to Samantha Bennett, artist, mother, advocate, and survivor; Gary Springer presented the Nancy Ford Springer Award to Kevin Carroll, MC, CP, FAAOP, Vice President of Prosthetics, Hanger Clinic; and Nick Springer with Ambassador John Loeb presented Champion of Progress, a surprise award to Gary Springer.
MNA Gala Honorary Chairs were Ambassador John. L. Loeb, Jr, Mrs. Sharon Handler Loeb, Liv Ullman, Donald Saunders and Para-Olympic Gold Medalist Nick Springer. Vice Chairs were Barry J. Klarberg and Heike M. Vogel, Esq. 2015 Event Chairs included Lenore Cooney, Cooney/Waters Group, Sara Herbert-Galloway and Gary Springer, Springer Associates PR and this year’s Auction Chairs were Matt Klarberg, Monarch Wealth & Business Management and Errol Rappaport. A spectacular job was done by all!
The Honorary Committee included Michael Badalucco, Susan and Hon. James A. Baker III, Lynn Grossman and Bob Balaban, Deion Branch, Steve Buscemi, Victor Calis, Commissioner Disabilities, Mayor’s Office, City of New York, U.S, Senator Susan Collins, Judy and Rod Gilbert, Adam Graves, Amy Madigan and Ed Harris, State Senator Jack Hart(ret.), Lainie Kazan, Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, Congressman Michael M. Michaud, James Naughton, Heather Randall, Susan Sarandon and Richard Thomas.
The Benefit Committee included Jeri Acosta, Lynn and Alan Bozof, Lori and Curt Buher, Elizabeth Cier, Rita Cosby, Nicole and Jeff Fratarcangeli, Jeri Brooks, Greenwell, Jonathan Hadaya, Laurie and Ken Hartwig, Charlotte and Harvey Hodges, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Susan James, Marcie L. Kammel, Allison and Matt Klarberg, Nikki Klarberg, Ryan Klarberg, Donna and Michael La Forgia, Marian Koltai-Levine and Daniel Levine, Lucy J. Lang, Leslie Maier, Sherri Michelstein, Jennifer Mocbeichel, Jan and Michael Planit, Susan and Peter Purdy, Heather Randall, Cassandra Seidenfeld, Lorraine Cancro Silvetz, Joe Sirola, Joe Trentacosta and Patti and John Wukovits III.
The Medical Committee included Richard Besser, Chief Health and Medical Editor, ABC News; Paul A. Offit, M.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; William Schaffner, M.D., Department Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University; Nancy Snyderman, M.D.; James C. Turner, M.D., National Social Norms Institute, University of Virginia; and Dr. Roger W. Yurt, NY Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center.
No longer a disease unrecognized by the general public thanks to the work of the NMA since its founding in 2002, this signature fundraising event helps the NMA continue and expand its vital work in the fight against meningitis, educational programs that reach millions of people each year with information about available immunizations and disease symptoms, and thoughtful, comprehensive support programs for families devastated by the ravages of the disease. Celebrities in support of the NMA include Richard Thomas, Susan Sarandon, Michael Badalucco, Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, Lynn Grossman and Bob Balaban, NFL Star Deion Branch, NHL legend Rod Gilbert, New York Rangers’ Adam Graves, Amy Madigan and Ed Harris, Lainie Kazan, James Naughton, and Heather Randall.
For more information about NMA’s life-saving work please visit www.nmaus.org.