The time is NOW - Partners for Life Gala
Thursday, May 17, 2012 marked the 12th Annual Partners for Life Gala, where Gift of Life celebrated twenty-one years of saving lives. It was the best attended Gala yet, with over eight hundred guests coming together at the Grand Hyatt Ballroom in New York City to support Gift of Life’s mission to save lives.
The evening’s master of ceremonies was actress and neuroscientist, Mayim Bialik. Mayim has been a strong advocate for Gift of Life and has appeared in a video urging potential donors to get swabbed in the search for a donor for three-year-old Ezra, who suffers from a rare immune deficiency. As Founder and Executive Director, Jay Feinberg, spoke, Ezra was recuperating in a nearby hospital from an umbilical cord blood transplant. Bialik spoke on Ezra’s mother’s behalf, stressing the importance not only for volunteers to join the Gift of Life Registry, but to also pledge financial resources to test all swab kits on the wait list. Bialik stated that the family will “always wonder if Ezra’s match was simply on the waitlist, lacking funds to be processed.”
The culmination of the evening was the introduction of three bone marrow recipients to their life-saving donors. First, Marilyn was introduced to her donor, Ariel. Marilyn was overwhelmed with emotion and thanked Ariel for giving her the gift of allowing her to see her fifteen-month-old granddaughter grow up. Next, Greg was introduced to his donor, Aderet. Greg said that he was devastated when his first donor backed out and if it weren’t for Aderet, he may not have had a second chance at life. The final and most unique introduction was that of Avi to his two donors, Eli and Richard. Avi’s story began as a donor and in an unbelievable twist of fate, a few years after his donation, Avi himself was diagnosed with leukemia. Avi ultimately needed two transplants, from different donors, both of whom he met on stage that evening. Upon taking the stage to address the crowd, Avi looked at his donors, Eli and Richard, filled with emotion telling them how, after being on both sides of the fence, he truly understands why donors are heroes.
The Partners for Life Award was presented to the all-male a cappella group the Maccabeats. Started by students at Yeshiva University, the group has found international success. Last December, the Maccabeats approached Gift of Life about forming a partnership to run donor drives at their concerts. For Michael Greenberg, one of the founders of the group, the mission of Gift of Life held special meaning. His own mother, Judy Greenberg, had been diagnosed with leukemia when Michael was four. In her memory, he launched the Judy Greenberg z”l Miracle Match Campaign.
Through their partnership with Gift of Life, the Maccabeats have raised over $90,000 and sponsored more than 1,700 donors who had already been swabbed but not tested, into the worldwide registry. These efforts have not only brought heightened awareness to Gift of Life’s mission, but has also proven results with 10 matches being found for patients in need and two transplants scheduled to take place from the donors they added to the registry.
Gift of Life’s programs and services were highlighted throughout the evening, inspiring the audience to take action and further the mission. “The Time is Now” theme rang throughout as a $100,000 matching gift challenge was presented, and easily met by those in attendance, bringing the Organization one step closer to its vision: A match. Anytime. Anywhere. For anyone.
Interviews with Gift of Life may be contacted by calling 1.800-9MARROW. Photos and videos, including the stream of the 2012 Gala, can be viewed on the Gift of Life website at: www.giftoflife.org.
Please be sure to check out the wonderful photos from the evening and our featured videos.