The 22nd Annual Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) held its sold-out dinner at Cipriani Wall Street on Thursday November 21st with cocktails beginning at 6:30 PM. The Waxman Foundation was started in 1976 and has since awarded more than $100 million to support the work of more than 200 researchers around the globe. Samuel Waxman, a noted oncologist, helped find a cure for acute promyelocytic leukemia and has devoted his career to developing minimally toxic therapies to improve the lives of patients. The 950 person crowd, who paid $2,000 per ticket, first headed to 55 Wall Streetto check-in; and then made their way to the Atrium across the street for cocktails. This is the first time I have seen the street closed off so guests could cross back and forth on an easy access red carpet-indicative of the heavily connected Wall Street crowd in attendance.
After frequenting this dinner for years, this evening was the most well attended and exciting as endless amounts of suits congregated for one of the premier socialization events of the year. These men were there to make connections with cards and numbers being handed out continually. The night’s honorees were an eclectic group including clothing designer Kobi Halperin, salon owner Valery Joseph and President of Taub Companies-Marc Taub. Emcee Chris Wragge, Co-Anchor of CBS 2 News, began the dinner as he usually does by highlighting the importance of cancer research and mentioning that his 77-year-old father was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. Wragge is a staple at Waxman events devoting his time and energy to help the charity thrive. Another dedicated attendee, Chairman of SWCRF Michael Nierenberg, said his year was less than optimal due to the loss of his father from Parkinson’s remarking to the audience that their money mattered. Nierenberg, is undoubtedly a powerful force on Wall Street, as hundreds of his friends came out to support him and this pivotal charity. He announced that more than $6 million had been raised with a $1 million gift donated by the Gladstein family-who are challenging supporters to match it dollar-for-dollar.
Samuel Waxman noted that while the mortality rate for cancer is going down the incidence of it is increasing and he was trying to uncover why those who live longer are being stricken. He was hopeful that in collaboration with 50 scientists, he might be able to make strides in the war against this dreaded disease. One of those who has suffered greatly at the hands of cancer, is salon owner and honoree Valery Joseph. In March 2018 Valery lost his wife, Revi, to ovarian cancer and it was obvious from his lugubrious tone that he was still in mourning. He recalled arriving from Israel years ago after being injured in the army and pursuing his passion for cutting hair. His third year in the United States he met his wife Revi who ran the business side of his salons-while he took charge creatively. They eventually opened five salons and tended to a clientele which spanned the globe. He recalled jogging on the beach with his wife when she began to complain of pain on her side; later discovering she had stage 4 ovarian cancer. After going into remission, the cancer recurred 2.5 years later and spread to two parts of her body. Joseph could barely speak when he recalled his three children’s pain in losing their mother and said the rest of his life would be devoted to trying to find out how to keep cancer in remission.
Stories like these are far too common as auctioneer Hugh Hildesley noted he was recently diagnosed with tongue cancer and part of his tongue was fake. The scourge of cancer is omnipresent as recounted by honorees Kobi Halperin and Marc Taub whose lives were significantly effected by the disease. As guests enjoyed a healthful meat and fish meal they were treated to the tunes of “Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real.” Lukas, whose father is Willie Nelson, entertained the audience with his fast-paced country tunes as guests headed home at 11 PM with a bottle of Prosecco, make-up and most importantly an abundance of information.