The annual Angel Ball benefiting cancer research brought out some big names and big spenders Monday at New York’s Cipriani Wall Street.
E! News correspondent Alicia Quarles acted as emcee, and had her work cut out for her along with the rest of the speakers in an attempt to quiet the boisterous crowd. In her opening, after a performance by Broadway performer Billy Porter, Quarles explained her best friend of 15 years, and former MTV reality star, Diem Brown, is a large reason for her war against the disease. Brown, who lost the battle at age 34, allowed the media into her life to document her battle.
“She did that because she believed knowledge is power,” Quarles said, who described Brown as her “earth angel.” “I even have angel wings tattoos for her.”
“Tonight, we celebrate the vision of my daughter Gabrielle,” said Denise Rich of Gabrielle Rich Aouad, in memory of whom the Angel Ball is held. Aouad died nearly 20 years ago to acute myelogenous leukemia. “Since then, the (Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research) has funded nearly $25 million towards cancer research.”
Rich then led the room in a moment of silence and prayer, encouraging guests to light the candles provided for them at their tables. The guests complied and soon the room was aglow with raised white candles.
Jeff Gordon kicked off the award acknowledgments by introducing Brian France, chairman and CEO of NASCAR, and his wife, Amy France.
Amy France referenced a recent children’s cancer effort NASCAR organized in Pennsylvania recently.
“As a parent of young children I was reminded that any one of those children could have easily been my child, your child, and these are the moments that really motivate me to contribute to cancer research,” she said. “One of my greatest hopes for our children, Luke and Meadow, is that one day they be inspired to be part of something much greater and bigger than their own self interest. To make real impactful change in this world.”
Also being honored that night was supermodel Heidi Klum, who received her award from “America’s Got Talent” co-star Nick Cannon.
“But really this award shouldn’t be for me. I’d like to dedicate this award to all the amazing scientists, the doctors and all the nurses. You work so hard and you devote your life to all these families that fight and struggle with cancer. So this one is for you. I’m just going to keep it at my house because it’s so beautiful,” said Klum.
After Klum’s acceptance, the party really got started with a live auction filled with five exceptional experiences including a souped up 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 in bright yellow, which was parked outside encased in glass. In the words of the auctioneer, the winner could “get the keys from this gentleman (from Porsche) and drive right out of here.” Other prizes included two tickets to Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York, the Robb Report’s 2016 Car of the Year celebration and a weekend on Rich’s boat named “Lady Joy.”
Board member Lorraine Schwartz also donated earrings consisting of 32 carats worth of sapphires reportedly to have only been worn by Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez, and were modeled by actress Kat Graham for the event. During all of the live auction hubbub, music mogul Clive Davis and Usher caught up in the audience and the singer created a stir among the guests as several people attempted to catch a glimpse. Also in the audience were Ivanka Trump and Montel Williams.
Patti LaBelle performed later in the evening, joking, “I’m here because I have to be. I’m one of Denise Rich’s favorite people.” Once LaBelle started singing “Lady Marmalade” the crowd took to the dance floor and brought up four men from the audience to help her sing. Porter jumped on stage and began dueting with the soul diva.
Post-performance, Quarles said, “I got one question, Patti, on behalf of everyone in this room. Would you marry me?” To which Patti replied, “I’m doing it for cancer research. But I would never marry a woman.”
OneRepublic came on as the last performers of the night and got everyone to dance and sing along.
“I don’t know how we’re going to follow Patti LaBelle,” said lead singer Ryan Tedder. “This is an acoustic set but if you know this song feel free to toss your champagne up in the air.”
Tedder and company launched into “Counting Stars” followed by “Apologize.” Before ending the night, Tedder spoke to the audience and said, “Cancer is a cosmic game of duck duck goose. It doesn’t care where you come from, how much money you have, it doesn’t give a s— who you are.”
They fittingly ended the night with a performance of “I Lived.”
The Angel Ball raised $3.6 million and counting for Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.