Wednesday, August 31, 2016

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

The Prostate Cancer Foundation Gala in the Hamptons Raises 4 Million in 4 Minutes

All photos Lieba Nesis
Click on images for full size views

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) hosted its 12th annual gala on Saturday August 27, 2016, at the Parrish Art Museum in Watermill, New York with cocktails beginning at 6:30 PM. This event is one of the major happenings of the summer Hampton's social season and many of the attendees fly in on their private planes from California to attend this $2,500 per head dinner. PCF is a foundation committed to curing prostate cancer with 100 percent of funds raised supporting groundbreaking discoveries in cancer research.

Prostate cancer researcher Dr. Jonathan Simons with Michael Milken

Michael Milken is the Chairman and Founder of PCF and the same tenacity he applied to his financial career is now turned toward eradicating cancer. In the 1980's Milken was known as the "junk bond king" and was a superstar in the financial world with only four down months over a period of 17 years. After being banned from the securities industry in 1989, he embarked on a different, equally successful journey with Fortune magazine calling him "The Man Who Changed Medicine" in its November 2004 cover article. PCF was started in 1993 by Milken after he was diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease that year and given a prognosis of 12 to 18 months to live.

Left to right: Brent Nicklas managing partner at Lexington Partners with wife Laura,
Cynthia Ott, and Real Estate Mogul Jim Coleman

Until Milken entered the arena, prostate cancer research was considered a dead end. However, Milken is a problem solver and he and his cohorts developed a new model which was: investing in the most innovative programs. One of these initiatives was the Young Investigative Program, which gives recent MDs and PhD's the opportunity to conduct critical research at opportunistic moments in their career.

Left to right: tennis players Don Johnson, Jared Palmer
and Georgy Chukhleb

Dr. Jonathan Simons, is a pivotal cog in the organizational wheel, being a leading prostate cancer researcher and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation. Simons pointed out that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and the organization was seeking to raise money for a strategy called TEAM which stands for "time to eradicate all metasteses."

Left to right: Dr. Jonathan Simons in conversation with David Koch
and his wife Julia

Milken knows how to gather the right crowd for a fundraiser with billionaires David Koch, Leon Black, and Steve Ross being just a few of the heavy hitters attending.  David Koch is himself a prostate cancer survivor and showed up looking thinner than usual but stated "he was alive and kickin." The night was a smash success with more than 300 attendees at the dinner, up 20% from last year, and upwards of 400 people participating in the tennis tournament over 4 days.

Real estate developer Arnie Rosenshein with wife Paola Bacchini

When I spoke to Milken he said there was more than a 50 percent reduction in men dying from the disease and it was now becoming a chronic livable ailment with more than 1.4 million men alive because of the approval of 6 drugs spearheaded by his efforts. His single-minded preoccupation with curing cancer was all he would discuss-not including his 9 grandchildren. This man is an unstoppable force of nature and a hero who should be lauded for singularly devoting his time to helping others.

Anera Bociank and Don Engel

Tonight he took to the stage to raise 5 million for research and after donating the first 1 million another 4 was raised within less than 5 minutes-that's the way to do it. The night's entertainment was equally rewarding with Grammy winner Dianne Reeves, and nationally recognized pop vocal group "The Company Men" wowing the crowd. However, it was Billy Idol who had the group on their feet as he sang for nearly an hour and removed his shirt-revealing an impressive physique.

 Real estate developer Steve Ross and his wife Kara

The evening did not conclude until 11 PM, a late hour for the Hamptons, and guests were enthusiastically sharing videos of Billy Idol in action. I myself was marveling at the 70-year old man standing in front of me named Milken; someone I studied at Harvard Business School who was now making an indelible mark in the field of cancer.






- Lieba Nesis

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