Nile Rodgers & Chic had the crowd grooving well into the night at the 29th Annual Race to Erase MS Gala, which returned to the Fairmont Century Plaza hotel in Century City after being held as a drive-in event for the past two years.
Held on Friday night, the star-studded gala raised over $1.4 million for research to treat and ultimately find a cure for multiple sclerosis.
Race to Erase MS founder Nancy Davis told Variety that she was thrilled to have the benefit back at its longtime home in the Fairmont ballroom.
‘It’s nothing short of a miracle,’ she said. ‘I’m so glad that we are here. The whole Hollywood community is out in force. We are going to all dance like crazy tonight to Nile Rodgers because that’s what we do.’
Cybill Shepherd kicked off the evening’s festivities as she introduced an adaptive fashion show by Tommy Hilfiger. Shepherd said, “Why is the Race to Erase MS Gala so important to me? My darling Clementine. My darling Clementine has multiple sclerosis, but she is doing very well.”
She continued, “That diagnosis of my daughter Clementine was one of the most difficult days of my life, but she’s doing great right now and I have two grandchildren.”
The fashion show featured pieces from the latest collection of the Tommy Hilfiger adaptive clothing line, which is designed to make dressing easier for adults and children with disabilities. Models of all abilities showcased the collection with Hilfiger joining them on the runway at the end of the show.
Davis took the stage after being introduced by her twin daughters Isabella and Mariella Rickel. She told attendees, “I’m so grateful to be back home and have everyone gathered as one big, loving, caring and extended family in this most spectacular setting. I’m more grateful than ever for your kindness and generosity over these past two challenging years, coming together to steadily continue our very important research to find the cause and cure for multiple sclerosis.”
Davis went on to say, “As Marie Curie was quoted, ‘Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so we may fear less.’ When I was diagnosed 30 years ago with MS and told there would never be a cure, that I had what was called a hopeless disease, my instinct was to search for answers, to understand, to fear less. As a young mother of three, I had become fearless, with so many hopes and dreams for my future, obliterated with one doctor’s visit. I’m so grateful that I didn’t listen to the hopelessness and took a path of hopefulness.”
She noted that there are now 22 drugs on the market to help stop the progression of MS, saying, “This is nothing short of a miracle. You have all created this miracle for everyone who lives with multiple sclerosis and now we must forge ahead and find the cause and cure for this neurological disease and stop all the suffering and debilitation that exists.”
“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Kathy Hilton, Garcelle Beauvais, Crystal Minkoff and Sheree Zampino introduced the live auction led by auctioneer Kenny Shirey. The first item up was a lunch for two at a Beverly Hills restaurant with Hilton and Beauvais as well as fellow Housewives Dorit Kemsley and Sutton Stracke.
“Now, I’ve heard that the value of this is priceless, and I think it’s true,” Beauvais quipped.
The lunch eventually sold for $22,500 with the big item of the night, a Lars Beusker limited-edition panther photograph, selling for $39,000. Other items included a four-night stay at the Four Seasons Resort Maui, a four-night stay at the Little Nell & Aspen Skiing Company in Aspen and a recording session with Nile Rodgers. An adorable mini Australian Labradoodle puppy sparked a bidding war and went for $22,500.
Vivica A. Fox, Taryn Manning, and Tim Realbuto presented a video about Race to Erase MS and the Center Without Walls research. The trio starred in the upcoming drama “Bobcat Moretti”, which follows an obese man who is diagnosed with MS and becomes inspired to take up boxing to lose weight.
Siedah Garrett introduced Nile Rodgers & Chic, who got the guests on their feet as they danced to some of the musician’s biggest hits including “I’m Coming Out,” “Let’s Dance”, “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “We Are Family” and “Le Freak”.
As per the gala’s 29-year tradition, the night concluded with a performance of “Lean On Me”. The band was joined by Garrett, Greg Phillinganes and Davis for the finale number as well as members of the audience.
Other guests included Victoria Justice, Frances Fisher, Anna Trebunskaya, David Faustino, Ed Begley Jr., Katie Cassidy, Emma Kenney, Joely Fisher, Emma Norton, Gigi Gorgeous, James Tupper, Shaun Robinson and Vanna White.