Susan G. Komen® honored U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Carlyle Group CEO David Rubenstein for their contributions in fighting breast cancer at the fifth annual “Honoring the Promise” gala. Held at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the event raised almost $2 million to fund grants for Komen’s 19 breast cancer grantees in the National Capital Region – an area with the highest incidence of and mortality rate from breast cancer in the nation.
Journalist and former “Good Morning America” host Joan Lunden emceed the event. In June 2014, Lunden was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of the disease.
“One of the first people who called me after my breast cancer diagnosis was Nancy Brinker, offering advice, expert doctors and simply friendship,” Lunden said. “It is my great honor to be a part of the Honoring the Promise gala this evening. Because of Susan G. Komen, many others like myself have hope and new treatments.”
Rep. Wasserman Schultz was the recipient of the Betty Ford Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to her by last year’s recipient, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the award’s namesake, the late former First Lady Betty Ford. Rep. Wasserman Schultz was honored for her advocacy on behalf of women with breast cancer, especially those diagnosed at younger ages. In 2009 she successfully passed the Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young, or EARLY Act, an Act that creates education campaigns about the threats of breast cancer in young women.
"It is truly special to receive an award named for a woman who reduced stigmas by publicly talking about her own battle against breast cancer at a time when it was considered inappropriate to do so, thereby helping other women know that they were not alone and helping start an important national conversation. I thank Susan G. Komen for this incredible honor and for their leadership in fighting breast cancer," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23). "Once I recovered from my own battle against the disease, I knew I had to translate that experience into action by writing legislation with a simple premise: knowledge is power.”
Carlyle CEO David Rubenstein was the recipient of the Mission Advancement Award, presented to him by Komen founder Nancy Brinker and Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. Rubenstein, a Komen Global Ambassador and well-known philanthropist, was honored for his steadfast support of Komen’s critical breast cancer research and global and community initiatives.
“Thanks to events like Honoring the Promise, we have been able to invest more than $35 million in more than 300 community grants to serve low-income, uninsured and medically underserved women in the National Capital Region,” said Judith A. Salerno, M.D., M.S., president and CEO of Susan G. Komen. “While strides have been made, as long as more women die from the disease here than anywhere else in the country, there is still so much more to be done.”
The event was followed by a reception at the Kennedy Center's Atrium where WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon—joined by husband Paul "Triple H" Levesque—gave remarks about WWE's partnership with Komen. In October 2012, the two organizations formed the "Rise Above Cancer" campaign. The partnership—which features wrestlers wearing pink and the sale of pink branded merchandise—has raised more than $1.2 million to date. This year's partnership will launch at Monday Night RAW on September 29 at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois.
The 2014 Honoring the Promise gala was chaired by Melissa Maxfield, Senior Vice President of Federal Government Affairs for Comcast Corporation. Honorary chairs of the evening included Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Rep. Dave Camp, Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. John Dingell, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Aaron Schock. The evening gala was vice-chaired by Anne D. and John D. Raffaelli and Linda and Acie Vickers. Executive Chairs included Grace and Morton Bender, Eric Brinker, Alexine Clement Jackson, Linda and Bill Custard, Jason A. Denby, Debbie Dingell, Katherine LaVelle, Harriet Lipkin and Chris Sautter, Stephanie McMahon, Marion and Robert Rosenthal, Vicki and Roger Sant and Rhett Wilson. The young professional committee consisted of Vikrum D. Aiyer, Ashley and Matt Bronczek, Kiki Burger, Erica Crocker, John Mooney, Ashton Theodore Randle, John R. Richards and Jessica N. Shorter.
Photography by Christine Shepherd and Tony Powell