Earth, Wind & Fire got the party grooving at the second annual Drive-In to Erase MS Gala at the Rose Bowl on Friday night in Pasadena, which raised $1.4 million for the cause.
Last September, the star-studded fundraiser adopted a drive-in model, with stars rolling over the orange carpet instead of walking it. This year, the event shifted to more of a hybrid model, with attendees encouraged to hop out of their car and enjoy the event from pop-up chairs on the lawn, as well as a livestream for those who could not attend.
“I’m just going to request that all future red carpets we do in the car, because that was awesome,” Lance Bass quipped from the stage. “It’s now 28 years that we’ve been dealing with the terrible disease called multiple sclerosis. And who knew we’d all be dealing with a new horrific disease that would make us socially distance for over a year.”
Bass then introduced the Davis family and Race to Erase MS founder Nancy Davis. Davis was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991 at 31-years-old and has been raising awareness and money to find a cure ever since.
“We have had a banner year of success despite so many charities not being able to continue funding, and we can only do this because of your continued generosity,” Davis said, announcing that over the last year the FDA approved two more drugs to help stop the progression of MS, bringing the total number to 22. “This is nothing short of a miracle. When I started this journey 29 years ago, as a young mom with three precious children… I was told I would never walk again or be able to do more than operate the remote control on a TV set.”
“Tonight is a night of celebration as COVID is nearing the end and we are finally able to get an in-person safe event,” Davis added, thanking attendees for driving up for a second year running. “Unfortunately, we can’t have everybody rush onto the stage like we usually do because of the CDC rules. But by next year, we’ll all be back.”
The evening kicked off with a fashion show for Stacy Bendet’s Alice + Olivia line. “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” stars Kyle Richards, Kathy Hilton, Sutton Stracke and Dorit Kemsley introduced the live auction led by auctioneer Letitia Frye where items including trips to Las Vegas, Maui, Costa Rica, Little Nell in Aspen and the Bahamas, as well as a 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS 63 AMG were sold for prices ranging from $2,500 to $116,000. One of the cutest items of the night, a labradoodle puppy, went to two little girls who raised their paddles and squealed their way through the auction, ultimately winning the pooch for $7,000.
Earth, Wind & Fire headlined the event — led by Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson — playing their first live show since the pandemic struck as attendees danced along to their biggest hits, including “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “Let’s Groove” and “Sing a Song.” The band also played Davis’ favorite song, “Shining Star,” before launching into the event’s finale number, “Lean On Me,” during which they were joined by Siedah Garrett, David Osmond, Greg Phillinganes and the Davis Family.
Additional guests at the event included: Tyra Banks, Michael Campion, Victoria Justice, Keltie Knight, “Access Hollywood” host Mario Lopez (who introduced Earth, Wind & Fire with his son Nico), Natalie Alyn Lind, Loni Love, Shaun Robinson, Cassie Scerbo, Jodie Sweetin, as well as “DWTS” pros Alan Bersten, Gleb Savchenko and Keo Motsepe and more.