November 26, 2019 – New York, NY – The Lupus Research Alliance (LRA) 2019 Breaking Through Gala gathered more than 600 members of the global lupus community last night to raise $3 million, all of which goes directly to lupus research. The theme, Breaking Through, celebrates the many research discoveries that LRA makes possible to transform the lives of those who struggle with lupus every day.
This year’s Gala honored Alfred F. Kelly, Jr., Chairman and Executive Officer of Visa Inc. and Molly McCabe, Co-Founder of the former Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus and current member of the Board of Directors for the Lupus Research Alliance.
“Lupus has taught me compassion, caring, and how to appreciate every good moment you are given,” commented Ms. McCabe. “I have been given many great moments over the past 44 years, many of them representing the Lupus Research Alliance. I am currently very proud to be a member on their Board of Directors.”
“The Lupus Research Alliance is that connective tissue that brings these givers together in this incredible community that wants to find treatment solutions for lupus, an astonishingly complex autoimmune disease that affects each person differently,” noted Mr. Kelly.
LRA President and CEO Kenneth M. Farber gave reasons for real hope. “Lupus research is at an interesting inflection point and we just saw exciting results from Phase 3 and Phase 2 clinical studies that show promise for new treatments.”
Honorary Co-Chairs who helped make this the world’s largest single lupus fundraising event include former NYC mayor, the Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg and Lady Gaga. In a video message, the former Mayor Bloomberg noted the LRA’s accomplishments. “Tonight, we celebrate the scientific advances this amazing group helps make possible. Bloomberg Philanthropies is proud to support the Lupus Research Alliance as we have done for many years. We are sharing a simple and powerful message – join us. Together we can transform even more lives.”
Lady Gaga also serves as Honorary Co-Chair out of love for her aunt Joanne who lost her battle with lupus before they could ever meet. Her dad Joe Germanotta sits on the Lupus Research Alliance Board of Directors.
Even New York City did its part to help raise lupus awareness in honor of the Breaking Through Gala. Yesterday, the organization has top billing on a prominent marquee in Times Square saluting its research leadership thanks to corporate supporter GSK. And last night, the world-famous Empire State Building is lit up in the LRA colors — purple and red. November 25 marks the day when millions of people throughout the city are taking notice of the lupus cause and the organization as the global leader in lupus research.
Fresh from her starring role as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Laura Benanti entertained with a medley of songs including the unforgettable, “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Emmy-winning Journalist Brenda Blackmon emceed the Gala, sharing the poignant story of her daughter’s struggle with lupus and celebrating the triumphs of all those with the disease.
The highly distinguished and hard-working group of 2019 Gala Co-Chairs include: Ira Akselrad, President, The Johnson Company; Lynn Biggar, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Visa, Inc.; Richard DeScherer, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer, Bloomberg L.P.; Colleen Ostrowski, Senior Vice President and Treasurer, Visa Inc.; Robert W. Pittman, Chairman and CEO, iHeartMedia, Inc.; and Kelly Mahon Tullier, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Visa Inc. The LRA 2018 honoree, William J. Wolfe, Chairman of First Washington Realty, Inc., also contributed his efforts as one of this year’s co-chairs.
Additional board members in attendance were Neil Burmeister, Jerome Chazen, Jennie DeScherer, Katey Driscoll, Bill Mulvihill, Carol Weisman, and Spencer Zwick and the 2019 honoree Molly McCabe.
Watch this video to understand why thousands of generous members of the lupus community worldwide support the innovative science funded by the Lupus Research Alliance.
Lupus is a chronic, complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. More than 90% of people with lupus are women, most of whom are diagnosed 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 transforming the lives of people affected with lupus by financing the most innovative lupus research in the world. The organization’s stringent peer review grant process fosters diverse scientific talent who are driving discovery toward better diagnostics, improved treatments and ultimately a cure for lupus. Because the Lupus Research Alliance’s Board of Directors fund all administrative and fundraising costs, 100% of all donations goes to support lupus research programs.