2018 Handbag Luncheon Honors PUMA for Selena Gomez Lupus Campaign
2018 Handbag Luncheon Honors PUMA for Selena Gomez Lupus Campaign

2018 Handbag Luncheon Honors PUMA for Selena Gomez Lupus Campaign

NEW YORK, NY – May 22, 2018. The 9th annual Lupus Research Alliance Lupus Handbag Luncheon & Silent Auction honored two stand-out supporters to the lupus cause: world-leading sports brand PUMA and IBM Associate Partner Veronica Vargas Lupo.

PUMA was named “Corporate Visionary Partner” in appreciation for the company’s innovative marketing partnership with Selena Gomez that boosted global visibility for lupus and generated a significant contribution for the Lupus Research Alliance.  This spring the company launched Selena’s design, the Phenom Lux sneaker sporting her signature anklet chain that sold out in hours and raised $100,000 for lupus research.  Just last week, Selena launched PUMA’s new Defy shoe at a star-studded event at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles where lupus and the Lupus Research Alliance were recognized with style.

PUMA Global Entertainment Marketing and Partnerships Head Tracy Pendleton accepted the award on the company’s behalf.  Ms. Pendleton commented, “It’s always a goal to find partners who feel passionate about important causes, and one of the goals in signing Selena Gomez as a brand ambassador was to put together meaningful ways to provide awareness and support for the Lupus Research Alliance, a cause near and dear to Selena’s heart.”

Veronica Vargas Lupo received the 2018 “Woman of Achievement Award” for her long-time dedication to fulfilling the organization’s mission. She joined the organization in 2011 and helped build the Young Leaders group.  In years past, Ms. Lupo has helped in many capacities at the luncheon at which she is now honored today. In addition to her fundraising role, she serves as a mentor to young women diagnosed with lupus and draws on her own experiences to inspire, teach and support.

Ms. Vargas Lupo offered this advice to those diagnosed with the disease: “Lupus is not a life sentence. Life does not end with diagnosis. It is hard, it has its ups and downs, it may be lonely at times.  But a life with lupus can be lived to the fullest, filled with joy, laughter, kids of your own, a career and anything you can dream of.”

Hosted by the Lupus Research Alliance, the luncheon celebrated scientific research as the place where hope begins for people living with this chronic disease that has few treatments and no cure. A silent auction featured 75 handbags donated by top designers, and a first-ever drawing for “the” Gucci handbag generated thousands in contributions.

Three highly accomplished women co-chaired the luncheon: Felice Axelrod, Special Projects at Bloomberg Philanthropies; Alison Lee, Lupus Research Alliance volunteer and lupus advocate; and Teri Wilford Wood, Associate General Counsel of IBM.

Past Women of Achievement served as this year’s honorary luncheon co-chairs: Claudia Cividino, CEO of Bally Americas; Desiree Gruber, CEO of Full Picture and Founder of Project Runway; Brett Heyman, Founder of fashion company Edie Parker; and Former First Lady of New York State and accomplished author Matilda Raffa Cuomo.


NY’s Leaders Turn Out for Lupus

More than 300 prominent women and men from New York’s fashion, society, entertainment, publishing, philanthropic and lupus communities were in attendance. Many members of the Lupus Research Alliance leadership were actively involved in planning the luncheon including Jennie DeScherer, Carol Weisman and Teri Wilford Wood.  Noted philanthropists and socialites in attendance included Cindy Secunda, Arlyn Gardner and Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg.

Supporters from the fashion industry included: Elizabeth Schweitzer Miller, Director, Merchandise Planning & Allocation at Bloomingdale’s; Consultant and former Bloomingdale’s senior vice president of public relations, special events and corporate philanthropy, Anne Keating; and Karen Giberson, President Accessories Council.  Dedicated Lupus Research Alliance supporter and fashion industry leader Mary Belle was a highly active participant in the Luncheon Committee.

“A hallmark of the New York spring season and May Lupus Awareness Month, this year’s luncheon celebrates women whose passion and positive attitude inspire others to reach and achieve,” comments Lupus Research Alliance President and CEO, Kenneth M. Farber. “We were proud to also honor the sports brand PUMA for an innovative collaboration with lupus champion Selena Gomez that brings much-needed resources to accelerate the drive for new treatments and a cure.” 

About Lupus

Lupus is a chronic, complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. More than 90% of lupus sufferers are women, mostly young women between the ages of 15 to 44. Women of color are especially at risk. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues and organs — the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints.

About the Lupus Research Alliance

The Lupus Research Alliance is the largest private funder of lupus research, united to free the world from lupus by harnessing the power of innovative science to make a difference for people living with the prototypical autoimmune disease.  Through the power of collaboration, we are relentlessly focused on seizing every opportunity to transform the lives of all affected – patients, families, loved ones and the entire lupus community.

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