By: Lieba Nesis
The Global Lyme Alliance (GLA) held its 5th Annual Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres beginning at 6 PM on Thursday October 10, 2019. Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi which results in a systemic multi-staged illness. Emcee Rosanna Scotto, who looked smashing in a sequined pantsuit, recalled there are more than 427,000 people diagnosed in the US each year as it continues to be one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the country. The most at risk group for the illness are children under the age of 15, adults over 50 and outdoor workers. Some prominent sufferers include Yolanda Hadid and her two children Bella and Anwar, Avril Lavigne and Marisol Thomas (rocker Rob Thomas’s wife.) Tonight, there were a host of luminaries including Dr. Mehmot Oz, Yolanda Hadid and the Real Housewives of New Jersey who came to help find a cure to eradicate this scourge. This dinner is a wake-up call for me each and every year, as the best and brightest from the Hamptons and Greenwich Connecticut, describe their battle with this sickness.
David Nolan who is Vice Chairman of Milennium Partners, spoke about the pain three of his family members experienced after contracting Lyme. I bumped into Alexandra and Dr. Bernard Shayes who similarly recounted three of their family members being stricken after summering in the Hamptons. The most scintillating story of the evening came from construction magnate Bob Kelly. Bob is not the typical patient-a tough fearless construction magnate is hardly the face of lyme. He described feeling aches and pains with debilitating brain fog leading to his inability to find his way home from work over the George Washington Bridge. He recalled going to eight different doctors who remained clueless as to the cause of his illness after his blood work came back perfect and he never developed the typical bullseye rash. Bob is an obvious people person as 70 of his friends paid $1,000 to cheer on this Lyme warrior. He recounted being ashamed to tell his friends of his diagnosis as he is a private person who wants to maintain his dignity.
After the 9th doctor reiterated he was “manufacturing” the illness, his frustrated wife embarked on a journey which led them to a center in Scottsdale Arizona that found he had astronomically high levels of Lyme in his blood-remarking they were shocked he was still ambulatory. An eight-week six-hour a day program where Bob had an IV attached to his chest administering holistic treatments largely cured him of his symptoms until a recent arm injury reignited the disease. Remember when Yolanda Hadid was ridiculed by her castmates on the Real Housewives who accused her of having Munchausen. Usually it is women who are doubted when they complain of debilitating headaches, insomnia and memory loss. A macho man experiencing the same skepticism from peers was shocking. What was even more astounding was that Bob developed the illness by playing golf in New Jersey. Bob said altering his diet by eliminating sugar and carbohydrates helped his recovery while admitting his longing for sugary desserts. Kelly emotionally thanked his wife Karen for saving his life.
The paradigm of healthy living, Dr. Oz, told me the most effective way for curing the disease was high doses of antibiotics immediately-along with nutritional supplementation. Oz looked regal in a black suit and tie adhering to the dress code along with other splendidly dressed guests with multiple women in gowns and sequins. The 800-person crowd was oohing and aahing over the decor of party planner extraordinaire Larry Scott who donated his time and resources to impeccably decorate the ballroom and 73 tables. Larry is a celebrity in his own right with his long hair and tall stature making him the darling of the social set. He grew up with an Italian mother and Jewish father so his love for food and family is undeniable. After starting off as a kosher caterer he now serves celebrities and philanthropists in a business that is thriving beyond compare. “Who is your favorite luminary,” I inquired, to which Larry quickly responded Judge Judy whom he has known for 23 years.
Acknowledging that celebrities like to “schnor” everything for free Larry said Judy was the opposite-generous with her pocketbook and spirit and treating everybody the same. Larry has a couple of big celebrations coming up and was sworn to secrecy as to both the venue and customer identity. He said he started working on the evening 10:30 that morning and was delighted with the results. I concurred, as this multifaceted evening contained a juggler, entertainment by Santino Fontana and an exciting live auction where a weekend with legendary golfer Jimmy Walker, who attended, received two bids of $35,000 each.
The evening concluded at 10 PM with guests huddling in the ballroom to share their stories of woe. I ran into glamourous couple Dan and Heather Kerning who described contracting the disease two years ago in the Hamptons at roughly the same time and their inability to walk or think. Wendy Leone similarly spoke of her misery until she removed six of her root canal teeth and replenished herself with vitamins. It was announced that more than $2.5 million was raised-a pivotal step in the fight to eradicate this affliction.