Friday, November 21, 2008



69th Regiment Armory, NYC - November 20th, 2008

Last night, the nation’s economic ‘morale’ was decidedly low -the financial markets, ugh…but the moods of attendees at the SAMUEL WAXMAN CANCER FOUNDATION BENEFIT were noticeably upbeat.

And it wasn’t just the consumption of alcohol by some, and/or a knockout performance by the iconic rock group, Steely Dan that kept spirits going higher and higher.

Or the self-deprecating, comedic remarks delivered by Guest MC, Chevy Chase to get the crowd in a generous spending mood…that did the trick.

Rather, it was the hopeful updates on the battle to find cures for cancer- delivered by leading light, Scientific Director - Samuel Waxman MD himself…as well as the order to “let it rip” delivered by Chairman of the Board, Michael Nierenberg - that gave the well-dressed crowd a reason to bid up on unique auction items… and to positively party on.

WHAT: To quote from the 2008 Annual Report:

“Our vision is a world where cancer treatment doesn’t disrupt lives, it just saves them.”

Founded thirty-two years ago by friends and grateful patients of Dr. Samuel Waxman, the eponymous named Foundation financially backs concept driven scientific research, promising strategies and “visionary investigations of reprogramming cancer cells at the molecular level.”

With one huge success to date- a virtual cure for acute promyelocytic leukemia, the Foundation now supports 60 scientists at premier institutions across the globe, via its INSTITUTE WITHOUT WALLS. This high IQ confab of scientists, Nobel Prize winners and/or cutting edge researchers who dare to dream- are all on the same page with this innovative approach to “reprogram chaotically growing cancer cells to behave normally, called “differentiation therapy.”

“It’s very exciting what the Waxman Foundation does,” noted Executive Director Merle Duskin Kallas-who we luckily had a few minutes to chat with.

“88 Cents of every dollar raised goes to research (87 cents) and education (1 cent)” Kallas pointed out.

IMHO: The administrative overhead is astonishingly (impressively) low for a 501©(3).

As the dedicated Kallas sagely added: “It has to be…how else can you cure cancer?”

A masterful ‘performance’ by Sotheby’s Hugh Hildesley - aided by two adorable Golden Retriever puppies, and such “ultimate” experiences as a drum set and lesson- auctioned off in person (!) by Joey Kramer from the legendary band Aerosmith ($27,000!), a VIP dinner for four at the hip Waverly Inn with Chevy and Jayni Chase ($20,000)!) etc…got hearts pumping, hands up and bids flying.

PLUS: The live auction garnered major buckeroos, including outright donations to meet the substantial $1.5 million challenge grant by the Board of Trustees (funds that will 100% go directly to research-BTW).

But it was the legendary duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, aka Steely Dan…their top-notch band (the drummer is FIERCE), and back-up singing trio - that got the crowd on their feet as soon as the first chord was struck.

Including the multi-talented Tamara Tunie-who dresses down in her role on Law and Order SVU-as the smart Medical Examiner, Dr. Melinda Warner.

Hey 19!

We didn’t stay for the after-party set by The Lost Trailers…but would have if we were- like a decade younger.

And needless to say, we look forward to the day when this benefit for “the Waxman” is essentially, a 'rally the troops'- victory celebration… for winning the war on cancer.


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Words, Images by Judith Ecochard