New York, NY, December 9, 2005 – The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation, a nonprofit organization leading the fight against lupus, raised $2.4 million—the largest amount ever raised in a single event for lupus research, education and patient services—at its 35th Anniversary gala on December 5. Nearly 750 Foundation supporters attended the gala at the New York Marriott Marquis, which featured remarks by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and tributes to the evening's honorees: Foundation President Richard K. DeScherer, Board Member Jennie L. DeScherer and William E. Paul, M.D., Chairman of the Lupus Research Institute (LRI) Scientific Advisory Board. The LRI, established by the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation in 2000, is the nation's preeminent sponsor of innovative, novel research into lupus.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans, 90 percent of whom are women in the prime of their lives. In lupus, the body's immune system, which normally functions to protect against foreign invaders, becomes hyperactive, forming antibodies that attack normally healthy tissues, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, blood and skin. Complications from lupus can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. From its founding in 1970 to the present day, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation remains the leading lupus organization combating the disease on all fronts, through the funding of cutting-edge research, innovative patient and physician education programs, direct patient services and government advocacy.
"Every new voice—every additional dollar—brings us closer to a breakthrough in treatment," said Mayor Bloomberg. "A cure for lupus will be found some day, and all our hopes will be fulfilled. With the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation leading the way, I have no doubt that will happen." He then presented a proclamation to Susan Golick, Foundation Vice President and Founder, that proclaimed December 5, 2005 "S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Day."
Gala Honors Richard K. and Jennie L. DeScherer, and William E. Paul, M.D.
In introducing Richard K. DeScherer and his wife, Jennie L. DeScherer, Mayor Bloomberg, a longtime friend, praised the couple's commitment to the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation, noting, "Dick and Jennie have truly poured their hearts into finding a cure for lupus." Richard K. DeScherer has served as President of the Foundation's Board of Directors for ten years, a period of great achievement for the organization, including the establishment of the Lupus Research Institute, sponsor of the largest number and widest range of lupus research investigations nationwide, and Lupus LA, the Foundation's West Coast division. Mr. DeScherer is co-chairman of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
Jennie L. DeScherer is an active Board member who oversees the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation's distribution of emergency grants, which assist individuals with lupus during particularly trying times. In her remarks, she recalled that, when diagnosed with lupus 34 years ago, she reached out to the Foundation for support and information. Mayor Bloomberg said, "As a lupus patient herself, Jennie is a shining example of someone who won't let this disease get in the way of living her life to the fullest."
The recipient of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation's 2005 Scientific Leadership Award was William E. Paul, M.D., Chief of the Laboratory of Immunology at the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1970. He also serves as Chairman of the Lupus Research Institute Scientific Advisory Board. The evening's master of ceremonies, Charles Osgood, host of "CBS Sunday Morning" and "The Osgood File," introduced Dr. Paul. He noted, "Dr. Paul has urged the LRI to defy safe and conventional thinking in the pursuit of new insights into lupus. 'Take risks,' he said. 'Look for fresh thinking, the novel and even surprising ideas. Support the investigators willing to pursue them. Do this and we will change the face of lupus research.' And that's exactly what's happening."
The evening's entertainment was provided by the legendary Tony Bennett, who on December 4 was recognized as one of the nation's preeminent artists as a recipient of the 2005 Kennedy Center Honors. Distinguished guests at the gala included Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, New York City Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Leading the Fight Against Lupus
All proceeds from the gala will be dedicated to lupus research and education, and patient services and advocacy by the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute. To learn more about the work of these organizations, visit www.LupusNY.org and www.LupusResearchInstitute.org.