Given the FDA’s approval in March of the new drug Ocrevus to treat multiple sclerosis, organizers of the 24th annual Race to Erase MS gala had good reason to celebrate.
According to event host Nancy Davis, the research that event proceeds have funded over the years have included pilot studies for the drug.
“You dream forever and you have lots of events and then to see something like this, it’s like the home run,” Davis said. “[The new drug] is overwhelmingly exciting. It’s going to help so many people.”
Honoring Jamie-Lynn Sigler, well known for her role on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” the star-studded May 5 soiree at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills featured appearances by Kathy Griffin, Lance Bass, Randy Jackson, Lisa Rinna and Quincy Jones and musical direction by David Foster.
The iconic rock band Chicago delivered a 45-minute concert after a dynamic performance by “Man in the Mirror” songwriter/singer Siedah Garrett and turns onstage by singers Shawn Hook, Trevis Brendmoe, Olivia Keegan and David Osmond.
In a nod to Cinco de Mayo, a mariachi band played as guests checked out the 500-item silent auction and later found guacamole, salsa and chips on the table the moment they seated themselves for dinner and the show.
“I figure that when people first walk into the ballroom, they just want to sit down and eat,” Davis said.
In a conversation before the official ceremonies, Sigler, who only last year revealed her battle with MS, said she was diagnosed during her “Sopranos” years, when she was also playing Belle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway.
“It was hard for me to accept,” she said. “I felt well and healthy, but when I talked to the people I confided in, I was advised that it was probably best to keep it secret because people might limit me.”
But keeping the secret “was taking away from who I was,” she said. “It started to weigh on me, not just physically, but emotionally. … I decided I should be OK with being open and living my truth.”
Sigler said she wanted to thank people now for their support and to “work with it,” adding, “I’m grateful. I can sit here and rattle off all the things that have been taken away from me, but this has taught me about peace and surrender and how to appreciate. Everyone has something in their life, and this is my thing.”
Other guests included Naya Rivera, Paris Hilton, Kris Jenner, Pia Toscano, Marg Helgenberger, Lizzy Greene, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gilles Marini and Johnathon Schaech; dancers Sharna Burgess, Jenna Johnson, Lindsay Arnold, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd; songwriter Diane Warren and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.
Although a final count wasn’t yet available, this year’s auction proceeds included $290,000 paid for a bespoke Aston Martin DB11 Coupe.
Tickets began at $1,000 with sponsorship packages ranging to $100,000.