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Gift of Life lights up New York skyline during One Huge Night Gala

Jul 02, 2024 by Gift of Life News

A dazzling fireworks display and two emotional donor-recipient meetings highlighted the Gift of Life 24th annual One Huge Night Gala in New York City on June 5, 2024. This uplifting celebration was held at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers for the second year in a row.



The evening also featured the presentation of the Partners for Life award, one of Gift of Life’s highest honors, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Corporate Partner Award. The event was chaired by Gift of Life Chairman of the Board Stephen B. Siegel and his wife Wendy, with Gift of Life Biologics Board Member Julie Rubinstein and her husband Andrew serving as Honorary Gala Chairs.

9-year-old girl meets her lifesaver

Nine-year-old Addie (r) high fives her marrow donor Alex after they just met for the first time. Addie survived blood cancer thanks to the lifesaving transplant from Alex. They were introduced at Gift of Life Marrow Registry's 2024 New York Gala.

Addaline “Addie” Dolson, 9, was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia in 2019, when she was just four years old, after developing mysterious bruises all over her body. The only known cure is a marrow or stem cell transplant, but after testing, none of Addie’s family members were a close enough match. The family felt crushed, but when they learned a stranger might be found who could donate, they felt hope again.

The Dolson family’s prayers were answered when donor, Alex Davidson, 31, was found in Gift of Life’s registry, and Addie received a marrow transplant from him in July 2022. 

Alex swabbed in 2013 during Terp Thon, the annual dance marathon at the University of Maryland, where Gift of Life’s community partner, Hillel International, runs a drive every year to add hundreds of donors to the registry.

The pair were introduced by Gift of Life board member, transplant survivor, and staunch advocate, Wendy Siegel. Although Addie was too bashful to speak, her mom, Chelsea, shared the family’s feelings.

“Alex, between me and my family, I don’t think any words can ever amount to how grateful we are for you,” said Chelsea. “If anyone is ever hesitant about donating, just go for it. We’ve had our tough times, but Addie has pulled through and she’s here to stay because of people like Alex.”

“Before Addie was even born, I swabbed my cheek at the Dance Marathon – I was just 20 years old,” said Alex. “It was people like everyone here tonight who made that event possible, who put that opportunity in front of me. If we can continue to build up the community of donors, we can save a lot of lives, this is bigger than all of us. Addie is a fighter and it’s incredible to have her here, healthy, so we can celebrate her tonight.”

12-year-old leukemia survivor and marrow donor introduced

Marrow donor Rina hugs her recipient Zach as they meet for the first time. Zach's life was threatened by leukemia before Rina donated marrow through Gift of Life Marrow Registry to save him.

Following Alex and Addie’s introduction, the second donor and recipient pair, Rina Davidson (not related to Alex) and Zach Yudin, were introduced by transplant recipient Earl Luttner, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Lifetime Financial Growth, LLC.

Earl met his stem cell donor, Eli Hoch, at the 2023 Gift of Life Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament. Earl is also an underwriter for the “One in a Million” film. The trailer for this new documentary was shown during the gala. The story shows how Jay and his family’s determined grassroots search for just one matching marrow donor grew to become a leading cell and gene therapy organization with worldwide impact.

“This introduction is very special to me personally,” said Earl. “Rina, who is an incredible hero in her own right, is my donor Eli’s girlfriend. They are both simply amazing and if that isn’t a ‘power couple,’ I don’t know what is.”

Rina, 29, is a Ph.D. and a New York medical student who joined Gift of Life during a study year in Israel between high school and college.

“Joining the registry was an act of solidarity and hope,” said Rina. “But the possibility of being a match seemed remote.”

However, in 2019, she received the call that she was a match for a young boy diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her brother also received a call: they both matched the same patient. Rina won the privilege of donating marrow, and the collection was done at the same hospital where she was set to begin medical school two months later!

Her recipient, Zach, now 12 and in middle school, was only two years old when he was first diagnosed, after running a fever for days and losing the ability to walk.  He went through several years of treatment, then relapsed when he was seven. It was at that point his physicians determined a lifesaving marrow transplant from an unrelated donor was needed.

Today Zach is the percussionist in his school band, plays soccer and tennis, and loves playing video games, building Legos, and listening to music.

When they were introduced by Earl, the two hugged and then shared a few words with the event attendees.

“I want to say thank you Rina, for helping me be where I am today,” said Zach. 

“It is an incredible honor to have been part of your recovery,” said Rina. “Eli and I feel like Earl is family, and I can’t wait for you to also be a part of our family!” 

Susan and Edward Blumenfeld recognized with Partners for Life Award

Partners for Life honorees Ed and Susan Blumenfeld, Gift of Life's Chairman of the Board Steven B. Siegel and his wife, Board Member Wendy Siegel, Founder and CEO Jay Feinberg and his wife, Grace Toro.

(L-R) Partners for Life honorees Ed and Susan Blumenfeld, Chairman of the Board Steven B. Siegel and his wife, Board Member Wendy Siegel, Founder and CEO Jay Feinberg and his wife, Grace Toro.

Julie and Andrew Rubinstein, recipients of last year’s Partners for Life Award, presented this year’s award to two very special honorees.  Gift of Life recognized Susan and Edward Blumenfeld for their significant leadership and generosity, as well as their sincere dedication to Gift of Life’s mission.   

Together, the two seek to improve the quality of life in the community by bringing their energy, insight and personal commitment to a broad range of charitable causes. They believe it is their personal obligation to give back by taking an active role in aiding the lives of countless families.


Lifetime Achievement Award Given to Evie Goldfine

Evie Goldfine (l) was presented with Gift of Life's Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Founder and CEO Jay Feinberg.

Gift of Life was proud to honor Evie Goldfine with the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Jay Feinberg. Evie, a transplant survivor, has been involved with Gift of Life for more than 19 years as Senior Advisor, supporter, volunteer, and advocate for the organization’s mission. 

After learning of Gift of Life’s role in her transplant, Evie became involved and has been crucial in the development of diversity outreach.


Real estate firm Fairstead presented with Corporate Partner Award

Jeffrey Goldberg (l) accepted the Corporate Partner Award on behalf of Fairstead at the Gift of Life One Huge Night Gala.

Stephen B. Siegel returned to the stage to present the Corporate Partner Award to Fairstead, a purpose-driven real estate firm dedicated to building sustainable, affordable communities across the country.

CEO Jeffrey Goldberg, who accepted the award, has set an incredible example at the firm, supporting Gift of Life’s life-saving mission by hosting educational programs and donor recruitment drives at their New York headquarters.


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Thank you to everyone who attended the One Huge Night New York City Gala. We deeply appreciate your support for our mission: to ensure that every person in need of a blood stem cell or marrow donor, can find one at the time