Richard Thomas, Judy Gilbert, Kim Alexis, Lynn Bozof, Carmen D’Allesio, Rita Cosby, Joe Sirola, Cindy Marinangel, Gary Swanson and Aunaek Kebreau were among the longtime friends at the pre-gala cocktail party for the National Menningitis Association (NMA), which will honor NHL Hall of Famer and New York Rangers legend, Rod Gilbert, and Francesca Testa with the Nancy Springer Award. Lenore Cooney, Sara Herbert-Galloway, Ambassador and Mrs. John L. Loeb, Jr., Errol Rappaport, Gary Springer and his son Nick Springer will co-chair the Monday, May 8 “Give Kids A Shot!” Gala at Espace in Manhattan.
NMA was co-founded in 2002 by several mothers, including NMA President Lynn Bozof and Springer’s late wife Nancy, after their son Nick contracted meningitis in summer camp. He survived the illness. Bozof’s son did not. They are among those whose children were felled or permanently disabled by meningococcal disease, who have dedicated themselves, through this non-profit, to spread the word about the vaccines that can prevent it.
The organization is young enough for its close-knit members – who share stories of hardship, loss and survival. The lively pre-gala soiree at Lovage spilled out onto its rooftop terrace as the sun set on the Hudson.
Richard Thomas – who despite a long career on Broadway and screen, is still remembered as John Boy on The Waltons – has been a family friend of the Springers for more than 30 years. “Gary Springer’s dad John Springer, the legendary publicist was my personal publicist for a long time,” Thomas told us. “Gary and I worked together years ago when Gary was an actor, so we were pals. When tragedy struck the Springer family, my wife and I didn’t know anything about this disease. We learned about it the hard way, although not as hard as the Springers did. When Nancy set this organization up, we were on board immediately. We have kids and it’s very important to educate others.”
Sara Herbert Galloway met Gary Springer when his company helmed the PR effort for the Hamptons International Film Festival more than ten years ago.
“The night I met him, Gary told me how his son, Nick, contracted menningitis in summer camp in 1999 and lost his hands and legs,” she said. “As a mother, I immediately thought of my own children, and wanted protect them. But, to this day, there are only theories – no hard facts – as to how Nick contracted it. Gary thought it came from sharing a water bottle on a hike. As I became closer to Nick, Gary, his wife Nancy and daughter Olivia, I wanted to help.”
Gary and Errol Rappaport invited Sara to bring friends to their first event, at the Players Club and she has been a supporter since. “In many ways, our upcoming gala is a way that brings everyone together, many that have lost a child or loved one,” Sara told us. “So, their passion to prevent this from happening to others is relentless.”
For more information about National Menningitis Association’s “Give Kids A Shot!” Gala, visit www.nmaus.org.