|Al photos Lieba Nesis|
The Global Lyme Alliance (GLA) held its annual dinner on Thursday October 13th at Cipriani 42nd Street with cocktails beginning at 6:30 PM. The tickets were sold-out weeks in advance and more than 900 people crowded into this luxurious venue. This year's theme was "A Life With Lyme Is A Journey Like No Other" and honored supermodel Bella Hadid as well as Heather Glass, Arthur J. Mirante II, and Karen Peetz.
|Lyme sufferer Ian Abbott|
After spending four hours at the event, I am not sure I ever want to step foot in the Hamptons, Connecticut, New Hampshire or any other wooded area. The scourge of Lyme effects 200 children a day and more than 329,000 people each year-this is a global health crisis. People in tonight's audience who had the disease were asked to stand and there were close to one hundred people who obliged.
|Ulla Parker, Yolanda Hadid, and Marcia Abbott|
The disease has recently received attention due to celebrity Yolanda Hadid highlighting its crippling effects on the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" along with her revelation that her famous children suffered from the same ailment. I spoke to Mohamed Hadid, ex-husband of Yolanda, who told me he couldn't understand what Lyme was until ex-wife Yolanda educated him and the rest of the public. He said Lyme is deadly for many who don't get the proper care and don't have the right insurance plans with more funding needed.
|Mohamed and Bella Hadid|
Mohamed has movie star looks with shoulder length hair and a deep tan and quietly spoke with pride of his daughters, Gigi and Bella, remarking that he knew they would be successful because they work hard and are therefore, great role models for young girls. He attributes much of their success to their amazing mom who poured tons of attention into them from the day they were born.
Some other famous offspring who have suffered with the disease for years include Ally Hilfiger, daughter of Tommy, who wrote a book on its debilitating consequences called "Bite Me" which was given out at the end of the dinner. The dinner had many prominent attendees including: Charles and Seryl Kushner, Peter Brant Jr., Ulla Clark, and Ally Hilfiger; however, the real protagonist of the night was the disease itself which has impacted so many.
|Peter Brant Jr|
The night's emcee, news anchor Rosanna Scotto, said this evening would be politics-free and introduced Chairman Robert Kobre who reported that 50 percent of the time there is no bull's-eye rash with Lyme and 50% of the time the diagnostic tests come back with false negatives with 20% of overall cases being chronic. These were some alarming statistics partially mitigated by his pronouncement that GLA had 5 different diagnostic tests in the works and two drug cocktails that could be potential cures.
Kobre also made sure to thank Lawrence Scott events for providing, gratis, the beautiful decor. When I asked Scott, who is Jewish, about designing tables he said it was all about "creating a feeling" and not about a centerpiece or flowers. Tonight he wanted to create the ambience of a supper club with lots of greenery because it was about Lyme Disease. He donated the whole room which took him more than eight hours to complete and cost $65,000 to create. Lawrence, started his business 29 years ago, growing up with a father who owned luncheonettes, and deciding he wanted to do something a bit more creative.
|Models Alice First, Alexa Reynen and Marina Bert|
Scott designs the UJA summerfest and loves working with the Jewish community because of their fierce loyalty-"if you do the right thing they stay with you." Another person doing the honorable thing was Yolanda Hadid, who felt it was her obligation to share her story because the pharmaceutical companies make $700 million from the Lyme industry and therefore "want to keep us sick." She then introduced her daughter, Bella, with tears in her eyes declaring her pride in her daughter highlighting the disease.
Bella, who looked luminous in a lace sheer top and black pants, said she was home-schooled for most of high school and had to give up her horseback riding career because of the debilitating effects of the disease that often left her in bed. She said she wishes she could "be judged by the way she feels and not the way she looks" dedicating her award to all the teenagers struggling with the illness. She and her mom embraced, and welcomed the auctioneer to begin the less depressing part of the evening-raising money.
The first auctioned item was two tickets to the Tommy Hilfiger fashion show with a private dinner for 10 at Cipriani going for an astronomical $100,000. Moreover, lunch with Bella and Yolanda Hadid went for $60,000-I hope there are some truffles.
|Sophia Jordan a Lyme sufferer|
The evening raised more than $2.7 million dollars-a hefty sum for an incredible cause. Walking to the bathroom, I bumped into socialite Peter Brant Jr. whose favorite designers are Balmain, Givenchy and Gucci, but choosing to design his own suit with his tailor for this event. He and his brother, Harry, collaborated on a MAC cosmetic line and may design clothing in the future-he has a phenomenal sartorial sense.
|Rob Thomas singing|
After much of the crowd had emptied at 10:15 PM, Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas sang some beautiful tunes but not before demanding that everyone be quiet. He said his best friend was suffering with advanced stage Lyme disease so this was a cause close to his heart. His performance was heart wrenching and with typical rock star humility he referred to himself as "awesome". The evening ended with a standing ovation for Thomas and a sigh of relief from much of the audience-the dinner was a tremendous success and perhaps the journey toward a cure was one step closer.
- Lieba Nesis