Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, trustees on behalf of the Adelson Family Foundation, were honored at the Gift of Life Marrow Registry Annual One Huge Night Gala at Cipriani 42nd St. on Wednesday. Gift of Life raised a record $9.5 million to save lives by matching donors in the registry with those battling blood cancers and other genetic disorders in need of transplants.
Guests received the royal treatment as they entered the spectacular venue in midtown. Reminiscent of a Hollywood premiere, the glitterati and New York City socialites were in attendance and photographers flashbulbs kept popping. From beginning to end, everything was “top shelf” in terms of providing an elegant aura.
The Adelsons received the Partners for Life Award, which recognized their decade-long commitment to Gift of Life’s mission. The Adelson Family Foundation has enabled thousands of new donors to join the registry through Birthright Israel, resulting in more than 1,600 potential matches that have led to 209 transplants so far.
“Nothing can be as profound or as meaningful as the gift of life,” said Sheldon Adelson. “When I look at all of the philanthropic gifts that we make, I can’t see anything more important than the gift of life.”
Dr. & Mr. Adelson matched the donations that came in and were instrumental, if not entirely responsible for the tremendous success of the evening in terms of reaching a grand total raised of $9.5 million.
Speaking of Mr. Adelson’s prominent and influential wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson celebrated her birthday on Wednesday night as the attendees joined together in singing the traditional “Happy Birthday” song to her. Announcing Dr. Adelson’s birthday was Nily Falic, the co-chairwoman of the gala and the national chairwoman of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), a devoted philanthropist and good friends with the Adelsons.
Also during the gala, a kindergartner from New York City and a psychologist from Sudbury, Mass., finally met their life-saving donors for the very first time.
Idan Zablocki, 6, of New York City, who battled the potentially fatal immune deficiency Hyper IgM Syndrome (Hyper IgM), met his stem cell donor, Alex Weiss, 22, a financial analyst from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and a New York resident. Weiss joined Gift of Life during a Birthright Israel trip. Meanwhile, psychologist Jon E. Perlman, 69, who battled Acute Myeloid Leukemia, met his stem cell donor, Seth Benzell, 27, of Allston, Mass., a research associate at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, who also joined Gift of Life during a Birthright trip.
“The process has helped me realize how precious life is and how incredibly important it is to do mitzvot (Hebrew for good deeds) for others,” said Weiss upon meeting Zablocki. “I am so excited to meet my recipient, Idan. To my new little buddy, we will always be connected through DNA, and you will be always be connected through my heart.”
More than 500 guests attended Gift of Life’s gala, which Stephen Siegel, chairman of global brokerage at CBRE Inc., emceed. To mark the gala, Gift of Life’s orange brand color lit the Empire State Building’s peak and the Renaissance Clock in Times Square on Wednesday, while The Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue glowed orange Tuesday night.
Since its start in 1991, Gift of Life has grown the registry to more than 308,000 individuals who have volunteered to donate blood stem cells or bone marrow to save a life. In the process, Gift of Life has facilitated over 15,000 matches for those with a range of blood cancers, resulting in more than 3,300 transplants.
Also present at the dinner were other stellar personalities as Haim Saban, the founder of Saban Entertainment, producer and distributor of children’s television programs such as Power Rangers, President & CEO of Gift of Life Marrow Registry Jay Feinberg who was cured thanks a to a marrow transplant 23 years ago, the Gift of life gala’s honorary chairpeople, Shari Redstone and Barry Shrage.
In the Gift of Life journal, Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl wrote of the Adelsons: “Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson have saved countless lives, with a generosity that knows no bounds. They are heroes of people in need, who are guided by a deep sense of doing good according to Jewish tradition.”
Ms. Redstone is the Vice Chair of CBS and Viacom and is the co-founder and manager partner of Advancit Capital. Barry Shrage is Professor of the Practice in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University. He has been an advocate for Gift of Life since he joined the registry at a drive for Jay Feinberg in 1992.
Professor Shrage said of the guests of honor: “It’s a special privilege to help honor my dear friends Miri & Sheldon Adelson as we gather to support the lifesaving work of Gift of Life. I’ve known Miri and Sheldon for thirty years and have seen them go from strength to strength and from success to success creating and supporting initiatives that have strengthened Israel and the Jewish people and are already changing the shape of the Jewish future.”
Gift of Life gala co-chair Wendy Siegel is a transplant recipient and has been involved with Gift of Life for more than six years as a supporter and incredible advocate for the mission. She is married to the gala’s master of ceremonies, Mr. Stephen B. Siegel.
Stephen Siegel is CBRE’s Chairman of Global Brokerage and a member of Gift of Life Marrow Registry’s board of directors. In February of 2018, Mr. Siegel was honored with a Toast by The Real Deal, a fundraiser that benefited Gift of Life.
Throughout his distinguished career, Mr. Siegel has arranged multi-million dollar transactions for some of the nation’s most prominent corporate clients.
The gala vice chairs included Sara and Leonard Aronson and Elana and Aryeh Bourkoff. Leonard Aronson is the Founder and President of Eric Management, Inc., a family real estate development and management company. Sara was born in Haifa, Israel and served in the IDF, before arriving in the United States as a student in 1964. Mr and Mrs Aronson serve on the Cabinet Leadership of a capital campaign of Hadassah Medical Organization. They both support AIPAC, AJC, and Combined Jewish Philanthropy.
Aryeh B. Bourkoff is the founder and CEO of LionTree LLC, a global investment and merchant banking firm focused on media, technology and telecommunications.
The corporate partner award went to Brookfield Properties which is a premier real estate operating company that provides integrated strategies of Brookfield Asset Management (“Brookfield”) – a global alternative asset manager with over $285 billion in assets under management.
Gift of Life’s Corporate Partner Award is made in recognition of an organization that leads through philanthropy and goes above and beyond in service to the community.
David BenHooren, the prominent publisher of The Jewish Voice and an ubiquitous presence at charitable dinners throughout the NYC area was in attendance at the Gala as well . The Jewish Voice, a popular Jewish publication with a powerful social media footprint, is known for it’s coverage of important philanthropic events and raising public awareness of organizations such as the Adelson’s Gift Of Life.
Also present at the Gift of Life gala were New York City television anchorman Ernie Anastos, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Kimberlee & Jason Ostheimer, Charles Bronfman, William Begal, Thomas D. Stern (Chairman of the Board, Birthright Israel Foundation) Samuel Ian Rosen and Andy Borans.