Food trucks, a photo booth and attendees in costume were added to this year’s Lupus L.A. Orange Ball. The previously formal occasion was dressed down when its location was changed to the Fox Studio lot, which was transformed to a New York Street to match its A Night of Superheroes theme. Lupus L.A. council member and songstress Toni Braxton said the change has been in the works for some time.
“This year we decided to be less formal and to celebrate the day, just have fun and be outside,” said Braxton. “I love the idea of the superheroes, as a survivor of lupus it makes you feel good and people are behind you.”
Braxton, who shared her superhero name as Citrus Chocolate, treated the audience when she presented Lupus L.A. chairman Adam Selkowitz with Susie Cakes and sang a soulful rendition of the birthday song.
Other singers who took the stage during the evening were Serayah from Fox’s “Empire” and Seal, who performed new song titles as well as hit song “Kiss From a Rose.”
Loop Award recipient Michael B. Jordan noted in his speech that it was “20 years to the day that ‘A Kiss From a Rose’ was released.” Trying to sing the song before quickly giving up, Jordan shared that at 8 years old he was performing the song around his childhood home.
Seal replied jokingly to the historical reference, “Wow, thanks for making me feel old.”
Jordan continued his speech by revealing more personal family moments when he shared his mother’s journey with lupus.
“Lupus L.A. has given my mom incredible encouragement and has also provided her vital support and services, but what Lupus L.A. has done for me was finally give me an opportunity and a way to help my mom,” he said while looking toward his mother who was tearing up in the audience.
He went on, “As an actor I’m lucky enough to wear a costume as a member of the Fantastic Four… but I can think of no greater superhero than my mom.”
Jordan was presented the Loop Award by his “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed” director, Ryan Coogler, who revealed the two had become close since they first worked together three years ago.
Coogler recollected when he found out that Jordan’s mother was living with the disease, “I kind of learned in that moment, that was where Mike’s optimism came from [when filming].” He continued, “I thought about when doctors are telling you that your mom is having trouble walking… and they diagnose her with a disease that does not have a cure yet, it takes incredible optimism to be able to move forward.”
Other honorees of the evening were Dr. Andrew Schroeder and Michelle and Alan Kaye who received the Medical Visionary Award and Daniel J. Wallace Founder’s Award, respectively.
The raffle at the organization’s biggest fundraising affair of the year included prizes of Apple watches, a five-day stay at a spa in Costa Rica and a “Fantastic Four” special screening with a celebrity meet & greet.
Michael Yo hosted the event; other stars in attendance were Shay Mitchell, Karina Smirnoff, Sylvester Stallone, Bai Ling and Tasha Smith.