More than 300 New York’s leading “bag” ladies gathered April 25th at the fourth and largest annual S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s New York Bag Ladies Luncheon in NYC. The gala raised $250,000 for those struggling with the devastating disease lupus. Kicking off May Lupus Awareness Month, the event included a silent auction of 140 donated designer and celebrity handbags.
Two outstanding women were honored for their long-time support of the work of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation: Matilda Raffa Cuomo, Former First Lady of New York State, Founder and Chair of Mentoring USA National/International and author of the new book The Person Who Changed My Life, and Mary E. Belle, President, Licensing at The Jones Group which includes iconic lifestyle brands such as Anne Klein, Jones New York and Nine West.
Serving as Mistress of Ceremonies, opera legend and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Board member Jessye Norman honored Mary Belle. Introduced by good friend and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Board President Richard DeScherer, Governor Mario Cuomo had the special privilege of presenting his wife with her award.
Board member Jennie DeScherer presented the most moving honor of the afternoon. In memory of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s co-founder who died this month at nearly 102, the Foundation’s New Investigator Grant Program will be named: The Morrie Golick New Investigator Awards in Lupus.
Who’s Who of Attendees Touched by People with Lupus
In addition to Governor Cuomo, several members of their family including Dr. Margaret Cuomo, Maria Cuomo Cole and Cristina Greeven Cuomo were among the audience recognizing Matilda’s contributions. Additional S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Board members in attendance include Founder and Vice President Susan Golick; Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, wife of Senator Frank Lautenberg and Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Credit Suisse. Also from the Foundation’s Board were Fern Tessler; Betsey Selkowitz; Carol Weisman and Kate Kelly.
The event turned generously donated designer and celebrity handbags into pocket-books full of miracles; a silent auction raised funding for the science needed to find a cure for lupus as well as the necessary services to help patients live with the disease day-to-day.
“The funds raised today literally work miracles for those faced with lupus,” said Margaret Dowd, Executive Director, S.L.E. Lupus Foundation. Dowd also announced that the 2012 Life Without Lupus Gala will be held November 19 and will honor the very active Foundation Board member and noted philanthropist Fern Tessler.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, is a chronic, complex and serious autoimmune disease affecting more than 1.5 million Americans. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues and organs — the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints. Lupus is difficult to diagnose, difficult to treat, and a leading cause of premature cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and stroke among young women.