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K.I.D.S. 27th Annual Gala Dinner w/ Special Guests Mayor Corey Booker + Emcee Jordyn Wieber

Newark Now founder-the honorable Mayor of Newark, Cory A. Booker raised the rafters with an incredible speech filled with personal antidotes, sharp quips/observations, messages of hope, and well placed references to G-d, Church (and state), Israel (and its Secret Service), Martin Luther King, Mount Nebo, Moses-with an occasional Hebrew expression that stumped even this audience of garment workers....

Packed-cocktail hour...

- Donor Partner-The Toy Industry Foundation,
- Manufacturer of the Year-Kahn Lucas/Madame Alexander- Retailer of the Year-Army & Air Force Exchange Service-Agency Partner of the Year -NEWARK NOW 

Cipriani 111 East 42nd Street, NYC
Kids In Distressed held its annual gala the other night---celebrating its 27th year helping kids worldwide- including all 50 states...providing new apparel, footwear and toys...and services generously donated and distributed by corporations and individual volunteers.

With Hurricane Sandy bringing a new wave of families in need, close to home, the outreach efforts by K.I.D.S. - beneficially impacted people living in the tri-state area- who-no doubt,  never thought they would need to be on the receiving end of charitable and governmental aid. 

But as the saying goes "...there but for the grace of G-d, go I..."

Inspiration, determination and activism- came delivered verbally- via several poignant speeches, including opening remarks by Kevin Burke-Chairman of the Board who talked about Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts...and Gold Medal Olympic champion gymnast-the well poised Jordyn Wieber-who has been in training -really-since the age of four!!!! and accumulating medals since 7.... recalled her own struggle with adversity---and setbacks-yet she was key in helping Team USA to secure the gold-on a stress fracture in her right leg
Jordyn Wieber and her sister, Lindsay, 

Everyone is a fan...
Currently on tour, we chatted with Ms. Wieber-who seems like an amazing person and born in 1995 (ok that's makes her all of 17years old) ---has seen and successfully competed- seemingly everywhere. Currently on tour with the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastic Champions-we understood how one can miss the team spirit of the Fierce Five. But maybe ---in 2016????

The silent auction offered up authentic signed pics by the likes of Jay Z who no doubt, everyone in the audience would recognize on the subway...

Victoria Gotti-guest

Manhattan Community College freshman student-and oh yeah, a voice that blew us all away-and a K.I.D.S. fan, sang the National Anthem-. We asked-yes, she did try out for American Idol. Those judges missed a star in the making-maybe too much time looking into the cameras - and not enough attention paid to the unrecognized-as of yet- talent.

All smiles-Karen Bromley-leading light/founder/Board member of K.I.D.S.---and Wendy Williams

We actually felt we were part of history-yup-that is how amazing Mayor Cory A. Booker's speech was-

...which started with a funny/inspiring tale about a Newark kid set straight (really scared straight) by a local preacher...then recounted stories about his South Carolina raised father-and a poor childhood aided by unknown benefactors (small acts of kindness)-to tidbits learned from Joseph's captivity (took us a bit to figure out which Joseph...) a trip to Israel with his elder parents ...including a side trip jaunt with two Israeli security details- to Mt. Nebo where Moses once stood-  that inspired a Kumbaya-like iPad retelling of the acclaimed Martin Luther King, Jr. speech "...I have been to the mountaintop...and I've seen the Promise Land...Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord..." 

And if you think there was not a sound in the room, other than Mayor Booker's voice for about 17 minutes or so-you would be right. 

As if we all held our collective breath, spellbound and mesmerized. Talk about oratory skills---we still can't get over his real-time, genuine 140 characters or less dialogue- with his 1.3 million Twitter followers. @coreybooker

in awe...

 We had a quick question for this politician besieged by well-wishers---and not hiding behind a beefy entourage...

"How's the diet?" 

Whereupon he just rolled his eyes---and fyi-Booker -inspired by a Twitter reparteé-in a way-is living on food purchased for $30/week-slightly less than the $33 amount of Federal Food Stamp aid an individual receives...aka now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

And yes, he turned away the delicious food (that we personally devoured in a New York minute)...and- so we were told- Booker does not drink alcohol, anyway. 

FYI: No mention of running for his state's highest office--- Governor of NJ---BUT IMO---this man belongs on a national platform...and not just as keynote speaker...and even if that personal touch gets a bit impractical/impossible.

What we would would really like now HOWEVER---is the Mayor to intervene in the NHL players/owner-whatever it is--- lock-out that has cancelled chunks of the hockey season. 

After all the New Jersey Devils home games- must garner serious coinage for his hometown.

words/images Judith Ecochard