DKMS, hosted their annual fundraising gala last night at Cipriani Wall Street. The evening hosted by NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, raised over $4.7 million for blood cancer research and honored blood cancer survivor, Bob Cusimano, Managing Director, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, for his courageous fight against blood cancer.

“DKMS can’t prevent blood cancer, but our dream is to give every patient in need of a bone marrow transplant a second chance. That’s why we fight so hard. In 2018 alone, DKMS recruited over 1 MILLION new donors around the globe,” said Katharina Harf, co-founder of DKMS. “And since our inception in 1991, we’ve recruited nearly 10 MILLION donors.”

The evening’s honoree, Bob Cusimano, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Bob received two bone marrow transplants, both from the same unrelated donor. Since the beginning of his fight, Bob has become a dedicated supporter of the DKMS mission including organizing events which have resulted in the registration of over 100 potential bone marrow donors; with one known lifesaving donation. “The only way to have a cure is through the generosity of someone else,” said Mr. Cusimano.

The annual highlight of the night came during the donor recognition moment of the program. Survivor Carson Lenington-Stewart met with his donor Samuel (Luke) Beckett. Beckett registered as a bone marrow donor in October of 2012 while attending Rockhurst University. Luke was inspired to register because his girlfriend (now wife) had lymphoma as a child. Carson was diagnosed with lymphoma just one day after his 9th birthday. After six rounds of chemotherapy, Carson was declared cancer free – but just two months later, his cancer returned and his family learned he would need a bone marrow transplant to survive. His match came in the fall of 2017. Luke and Carson met for the very first time in front of their families and over 900 guests. Luke said, “Donating bone marrow connects you – biologically, emotionally, physically – its just so powerful.”

Seal brought the crowd to their feet when he took the stage to perform some of his greatest hits, including “Crazy,” and “A Kiss From A Rose.” The evening’s live auction, led by Sotheby’s Chairman, UK & Ireland, Lord Dalmeny, featured a pair of stunning 18K white gold “Lotus” earrings by jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partiridge; a limited edition Markus Klinko photograph; a full-day BMW M Fleet Driving Session with Motorsport Legend Bill Auberlen and a limited edition time piece by Jacob & Co.

The Event Chairs were Olivier & Valérie Goudet and Honorary Chairs were DKMS co-founder Peter and Tina Harf (JAB Holiding Company); Bob Gamgort (Keurig Dr Pepper); Pierre Laubies (Coty, Inc.), Angelina and Monte Lipman (Republic Records). Also in attendance at the black-tie gala event were DKMS co-founder Katharina Harf, DKMS ambassadors Coco Rocha & James Conran along with additional guests such as: Alejandro Santo Domingo, Georgia May Jagger, Sarah Brown, Tory Burch, Derek Lam, Stavros Niarchos, Solange Azagury Partridge, Vanessa Von Bismark and Dasha Zhukova.

For co-founder Katharina Harf, the battle against blood cancer is personal. At 14 years old, she lost her mother to blood cancer. Although the family searched valiantly for a matching donor, her mother’s life could not be saved.

The evening marked the 13th year of the Gala and the 28th anniversary of DKMS, whose mission is to continually increase the number of suitable bone marrow donors. Event Honorary Chair members DKMS Co-Founder Katharina Harf. Katharina and her father, Peter Harf, founded DKMS in honor of their mother and wife, Mechtild Harf

Christine Schott Ledes
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