Glitz and glamour, laughs and love, celebrities and cheers – all of this filled the room at the Reeve Foundation’s 21st annual A Magical Evening
gala last Wednesday (November 30) at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.
Preparations started months ago to bring all the pieces together for this night. This was my third A Magical Evening, and quite possibly, my favorite one yet.
Though the event began as the night fell, some staff arrived in the early afternoon to turn the bare room into something that would resemble my wedding someday. (Wait, wedding?! Not for a while, thank you!) We stuffed 600 gift bags with fun goodies like Kind Bars and Manhattan Magazines and set up the magic ticket auction table with items like a New York Rangers signed hockey stick and a crystal glass Buddha. Cipriani staff laid out pretty blue table clothes and stunning center pieces and prepared the red carpet for celebrities.
Speaking of celebrities… Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (pictured left with me) opened the evening with a more than moving claim to “believe.” LeGrand is currently enrolled in the Reeve Foundation’s NeuroRecovery Network program at Kessler Rehabilitation.
Other stars on stage that night were Reeve Foundation longtime friends Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep (pictured right.) Later on, Mark Ruffalo and Christopher Thornton laid the ground work for the realities of paralysis discussing Ruffalo’s film Sympathy for Delicious.
On to some awards, we honored former LPGA star Karrie Webb, (Karrie Webb pictured below with Matthew Reeve and Alexandra Reeve Givens,) and former Chairman of the Board, Peter D. Kiernan III. Meeting Karrie ahead of time, she is genuine and exactly the kind of friend the Reeve Foundation is honored to have. Alexandra Reeve Givens said, “Karrie Webb is one of those special people who constantly reaffirms our belief that what we are doing is worthwhile, and will indeed change the world.” This was confirmed as Karrie approached the stage to accept the Christopher Reeve Spirit of Courage Award and was overwhelmed with gratitude. Her personal connection stems from her coach, Kelvin Haller, who has been living with quadriplegia for two decades. Karrie most recently donated $100,000 of her LPGA Founders’ Cup winnings to the Foundation.
Now I mentioned preparations earlier in this post. One of the biggest preps came for the Dana Reeve HOPE Award recipient, former Chairman of the Board, Peter D. Kiernan III. It all started with that little known TV show known as Glee. For weeks, my supervisor Rob and I were creating a one-of-a-kind “Gleeve” video to honor Peter. On Rob’s whiteboard, we wrote down adjectives, phrases, and facts about Peter and used to create our very own rap to “Busta Move.” We then met with Peter’s family, friends, board members, and staff making Sue Slyvester look like an amateur compared to the video we were about to create! The video was tons of fun to make (seriously… friends of Peter’s channeled their inner college kids and took their shirts off, board members shook their hips, and I actually had the honor of standing in as one of Peter’s daughters) but the real confirmation came when the whole room broke out in laughter as we aired it at A Magical Evening. I dare you to watch… GLEEVE!
The real magic of the night (okay I hate using the cliché of magic here, but really it was) was when Rob Summers stood on stage before our eyes (pictured at left practicing before during the afternoon.) Receiving a standing ovation, Rob amazed each and every person in that room. We first told you of Rob in May and the research breakthrough, EpiStim (epidural electrical stimulation.) Rob, living with paraplegia, is able to reach a standing position, supplying the muscular push himself, for several minutes and can also voluntarily move his toes, ankles, knees and hips.
From the months of preparation right down to final detail, the never ending dream of raising funds for our mission of care and cures for spinal cord injuries was wrapped up into a perfectly wonderful and enchanting evening thanking all of our donors, supporters, and everyone that continues to work tirelessly to help the individuals living with spinal cord injuries.
I’m sure I’m missing some details of the night, but maybe some photos will help. Have a look at the 2011 A Magical Evening photo album.
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