The Chiari & Syringomyelia Foundation’s 2013 Night of Light Children’s Gala was celebrated on November 9, 2013 in New York City. The gala, which has also been held in Washington D.C., was the third of its kind in as many years. The steering committee, Mr. Paul Farrell, Lady Trish Malloch-Brown, Dr. and Mrs. Fraser Henderson, Ms. Marcia Mayo, Mr. Adam Korn, and Ms. Dorothy Poppe, worked diligently to create a magical and memorable weekend that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.
On Friday evening, out of town guests were treated to a delightful cocktail reception at the Knickerbocker Club on the Upper East Side. The dark rich surroundings, comfy couches and warm service welcomed guests and offered an elegant place to mingle before everyone scattered to explore the city night life on their own.
Saturday morning brought a lovely brunch at Rue 57 for those who chose to start the day on a decadent note. Brioche French toast and Brasserie Eggs Benedict were just two of the scrumptious offerings enjoyed by many. Lively conversations recounting the previous night’s adventures as well as plans for the day ahead filled the room.
On Saturday evening, the night of the actual gala, the James Burden Mansion offered our guests the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Those who arrived early enjoyed the lovely sound of a jazz quartet, as they sipped cocktails and met acquaintances, old and new. Maryland crab cakes, caviar on lacy potato pancakes with crème fraiche, smoked salmon on cucumbers with chive cream and wild mushroom tartlets with champagne tantalized the palates of the attendees.
At 7:00pm, the doors to the main dining room opened and the sound of bag pipes beckoned guests to the grand ballroom, itself dressed in silver and gold. Dr. Fraser Henderson opened the program as Canard Inc. provided impeccable white glove service. The elegant menu included an amuse buche of apple, brie and sage, a first course consisting of smoked trout and coach farm goat cheese, and a delicious entrée of grilled loin of lamb. Each course was paired with a select wine generously donated by Cape Classics.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the evening was when our keynote speaker, Mr. Duncan Neiderauer, CEO and Director of NYSE Euronext, took the podium. Mr. Neiderauer’s impassioned talk about philanthropy offered guests a unique and unparalleled viewpoint by someone who has been instrumental to the success of many “for profit” and “not-for-profit” endeavors. We are fortunate he took time out of his busy schedule to grace our evening.
Following Mr. Neiderhaurer’s talk, we heard moving testimony from Charissa Boynton and her mother, detailing Charissa’s heroic battle with Chiari malformation and Elhers Danlos Syndrome. Her proud surgeon, Dr. Henderson, smiled widely when she declared she was virtually symptom free after her most recent surgery.
Of course, as in years past, the angelic voice of Meghan McCall and the masterful playing of Marcos Galvany on the piano elevated the evening to new heights. As we enjoyed our dinners, their music set the stage for the introduction of our Gala Patrons, Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Denise Mikula. Humbly accepting the honor, tears in their eyes, Mike and Denise took the podium and asked everyone to give generously so that other children might be spared the suffering their grandson endured so many years prior.
And generously our guests gave. Thanks in large part to our Goldman Sachs friends, we are grateful and thrilled to announce that the 2013 Night of Light Children’s Gala has so far raised almost $400,000. The monies will be used to advance knowledge through research and to educate the medical, allied sciences, and lay community about Chiari malformation, syringomyelia and related disorders.
Finally, the evening concluded after guests indulged their sweet tooth on pistachio cake with demitasse café. For some, this signaled the end of a lovely night. For others, many of whom who gathered together at Bridges Bar at the New York Hilton Midtown for champagne, another night in New York City was just beginning.