A Rock of a Doctor
Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation rocks Cipriani Wall Street—and raises $2.5 million for liberation from cancer
The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation recently hosted its 18th annual benefit dinner and auction featuring classic rocker John Fogerty. $2.5 million was raised to support cancer research, while Fogerty—founding member of Creedence Clearwater Revival and still a staple of US radio airplay—used his personal army of 25 guitars to raise the roof at Cipriani Wall Street with an incredible set of music mixing his 60s and 70s classics with his later hits. Cipriani Wall Street is a towering triumph of Greek revival architecture, and one heck of a place to enjoy this rock icon.
But the main focus of this annual event is supporting cutting-edge cancer research—handily redefining the concept of Collaborating for a Cure. Entertainment aside, the energy in this epic auditorium bustling with some of New York’s most influential heavy-hitters was not about being seen, but more about supporting a visionary named Dr. Samuel Waxman. Waxman, a cancer specialist and founder and CEO of Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, is a disarming dream-maker who, while mixing affably with everyone, also introduced me to some of his patients who have overcome the odds to beat cancer and continue to thrive.
Q. (for Waxman) “What’s it like to mingle and celebrate with patients you’ve cured—who were deemed terminal by other doctors?”
A. (Waxman) “Great question. There’s curing people and then there’s taking care of people near the end of their lives, and both are incredibly rewarding. I also do everything I can for my patients that can’t be cured to insure their comfort and dignity in their final days. I become very close to their families as well, and maintain wonderful relationships with them. Their gratitude is also the greatest reward—many of these family members are heretonight.”
Waxman’s vision: Imagine a world in which cancer can be treated without disrupting life, can be cured, or can even be prevented. Known affectionately by New Yorkers as “The Waxman,” the yearly gala is considered to be among the top fundraising events in New York City. Waxman’s laboratory is at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
The fundraiser’s brainchild is Long Island native Michael Nierenberg, a philanthropist who is Chairman of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. Nierenberg, a CW Post graduate, investment guru, and classic rocker, also had his fingerprint on the event’s soundtrack (before Fogerty’s concert), including the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, Boston, and Soundgarten.
Once again, CBS News anchor Chris Wragge was the Master of Ceremony while Charity Buzz created a dazzling benefit auction, both live and online. The live auction, led by Hugh Hildesley, Executive Vice President of Sotheby’s Auction House, offered guests the opportunity to bid on exclusive items such as a $10,000 shopping spree and lunch with John Varvatos (who was the event’s honoree) which sold for $17,000; an America’s Cup Yacht Race experience captained by former America’s Cup Team Members, sold twice for $10,000; a private wine tasting at Italian Wine Merchants for $17,000; an exclusive opportunity to meet John Fogerty and receive a flannel shirt autographed by the legendary rock star, which sold to the highest bidder for $10,000. The highest bid of the night, $60,000, went to a five day, four night stay for 10 people at the Ian Fleming Villa at the GoldenEye Hotel in Jamaica via private jet. Other travel packages included a CMH 4-day Heli-skiing trip for 2 in Canada sold for $17,000; A Milwaukee Bucks experience including G4 flight to a game and team memorabilia, which sold twice for $20,000 and an Italian wine and truffle adventure in Italy donated by Palm Bay International, which went for $32,000.
The event was attended by Waxman Foundation board members and more than 800 corporate executives and their guests. The money raised will support the Foundation’s research efforts to produce a cure for cancer by reprogramming cancer cells and to deliver tailored, minimally toxic treatments to patients. The scientists funded have made significant breakthroughs in cancer research, including identifying pathways to deliver novel therapies to treat cancer.
The prior year’s musical guest was Ziggy Marley. Past celebrity supporters have included Train, the Warren Hayes Band, Kid Rock, Chevy Chase, Steely Dan, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Sheryl Crow, and Counting Crows.