The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking research programs, hosted its annual dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street on Monday November 6, 2017 with cocktails beginning at 6 PM. PCF was founded in 1993 by Michael Milken and since its inception has raised more than $660 million and provided funding to more than 2,000 cancer research programs at more than 200 cancer centers and universities. PCF has grown to become the number one philanthropic organization funding global prostate cancer research. It recently partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs to create 11 Centers of Excellence to deliver precision oncology diagnostics and treatments to all veterans battling prostate cancer.
This year’s emcee Whoopi Goldberg hosted the event for the 11th time with she and founder Michael Milken having an easy comedic rapport. Whoopi proudly acknowledged being a winner of the coveted EGOT-the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony’s and introduced Army veteran Constance Campbell to sing a beautiful rendition of the national anthem. Goldberg could not recall how she first met Milken with him remarking they encountered one another on a Malibu Beach where they were both observing a beached seal. Milken said the three themes of the evening were: female scientists, big data and family legacy.
This evening was all about women with Milken highlighting the vast number of female researchers at PCF-constituting 30 percent of his investigators. Anyone curious as to how to run an efficient fundraiser please contact Michael Milken who raised $21 Million in around ten minutes-the second largest amount ever raised. Milken has been a mentor to Wall Street bigwigs Leon Black, Steve Schwarzman, and Bill Ackman and they continue to enthusiastically support his charity. He auctioned off a ride on his private plane to participate in baseball camp for three days for $100,000 to two different people and 4 tickets to the Billboard awards and parties for $75,000 to two people. He also convinced 7 people, himself included, to sponsor a Center for research for $2.5 million-not too shabby.
Milken is a man on a mission to eradicate prostate and all other cancers and he has helped save the lives of 1.5 million men with his six cancer drugs-92 cents of every dollar donated being spent on research. Those who conduct Milken’s research are called young investigators and he asked the audience to sponsor these researchers for $75,000 a year for three years.
At that moment I spotted a gorgeous man heading to his table and realized it was none other than baseball player Alex Rodriguez. This man never looked so vibrant and I bet Jennifer Lopez is a factor. Tonight she and Alex gleefully headed to the stage to announce their table would be donating $1 million. J.Lo looked sexy in a white skintight dress with every curve bulging out and she lingered at the dinner for a total of six minutes-hey she’s on six different television shows.
Another illustrious guest, prostate cancer survivor and mega billionaire David Koch, looking healthier and more robust than ever, graciously removed his glasses to pose for pictures with a delightful smile on his face. Koch has been a major contributor to PCF and he participates in their functions in the Hamptons and New York. One of the staples of a Milken dinner is the quizzes he poses to his audience with one of tonight’s questions being which television show had the longest run. None of the attendees knew the correct answer which was “Family Matters.”
Milken then introduced honoree Peter Grauer who is current Chairman at Bloomberg LP and a prostate cancer survivor. Grauer called Milken and leading prostate researcher Dr. Jonathan Simons heroes for saving his life with their treatments. He said Milken called him consistently to ensure he was receiving the proper treatment and he was forever grateful to him. Grauer movingly remarked that prostate cancer was both a man’s disease and a family disease and noted that PCF has reduced the death rate by more than 52%- the largest reduction in any of the top ten cancers.
At the hour of 9:30 PM most of the crowd hurried out and missed one of the greatest performances I have ever experienced with Jennifer Hudson astounding the attendees with her powerful vocals and lively dance moves. While Hudson may have been a diva years ago tonight she headed into the crowd to dance with the audience and take selfies. Her rendition of “Hallelujah” was breathtaking- I had tears in my eyes. When she whipped out the Whitney Houston repertoire she was as good as it gets. With sweat pouring down her face she made her way into the scant audience to thank all those who participated remarking that she never takes the opportunity to perform for granted. This was a spectacular conclusion to an evening that even had Milken and Dr. Jonathan Simons on their feet awed by her incredible talent.
By: Lieba Nesis