Sotheby’s Hosts the Annual Prize4Life Gala

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

“30 years ago on July 29th, my father died of ALS, and he died without hope. Back then, all you could get was care,” said special guest and auctioneer Jamie Niven of his father, legendary actor David Niven, at the Prize4Life Annual Benefit Gala at Sotheby’s on Monday night. The Sotheby’s Chairman of the Americas and host of the evening presented Doug Kerr, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Director, Neurodegeneration – Clinical Development, with the Prize4Life Pioneer Award on behalf of Biogen Idec for their commitment to advancing ALS science and finding treatments to help ALS patients live longer and better lives.

Also awarded were George, an ALS patient, and Cynthia Mazareas, who were honored with the Prize4Life Courage Award for their activism within the ALS community, raising funds and awareness to the community at large, and for their leadership as Prize4Life board members. It was back in 2003 that George learned that he suffered from ALS – when he and Cynthia were expecting their first child. The soon to be father was determined to beat the odds and be there for his growing family. Today, Eleni is in the 4th grade and getting ready for summer camp while Cynthia works as a lawyer at the firm Wilmer Hale.

The benefit began with a cocktail reception and live music courtesy of the Alex Donner Orchestra, followed by dinner, an awards ceremony, and live auction that welcomed over 250 guests. Among those spotted by AVENUEinsider: Nobel Laureates Dr. H. Robert Horvitz and Dr. Roger Kornberg; Dr. Neil Shneider and Leah Dickerman; Dr. Tom and Rachel Maniatis; Leonard Tow; Harvey Krueger; Dennis and Roseline Michael Neveling; Take Takekawa; A.J. Aralihalli; John and Michelle Marie Heinemann; Tracy Stern; Elaine Sargent; Nicole Noonan; and Sotheby’s Courtney Booth.

The organization’s CEO and Co-Founder Avichai (“Avi”) Kremer, who was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) at age 29 while attending Harvard Business School, was unable to attend the gala due to health issues, but welcomed the attendees via Skype and watched the evening unfold from his home in Haifa, Israel. Gala Honorary Chair Nathan Hevrony, founder and managing director of HIG Equity LLC and international philanthropist, also took the stage to address the evening’s supporters, as did Prize4Life Board of Director’s Chair Nicole Szlezak, M.D., Ph.D.

Guests enjoyed the evening’s live auction, which included luxury items like a private tour of MoMA, dinner at Sushi of Gari 46, a stay at The Carlyle, and lunch with Google executive Lisa Green.

For years, ALS was not funded by the pharmaceutical companies because it was deemed too small – that is, until Avi brought increased awareness to the disease. Prize4Life is a global pioneer in that it finds results first, and offers prizes to whoever achieves them. One could say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, have now begun to follow this model. While there is still no known cure for ALS, “there is hope now,” Mr. Niven optimistically concluded. “And ‘Mayor Mike’ has stepped up and given $25 million to us. By the time I’m finished with him,” Niven quipped, “he will have given a lot more.”


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