Sunday night, celebrities and over 600 guests braved the Times Square crowds to attend the Marrow Match Gala, a benefit for the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. I confess I had little knowledge of this foundation and the process for finding bone marrow matches for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other genetic disorders, however, during the gala I became well informed of the Gift of Life and their relentless efforts to save the lives of those in need of transplants.
Celebrities including Blue Bloods’ Sami Gayle, and 30 Rock’s Kevin Brown came out to support the night’s Gala Chair NY1’s Jessica Abo and Gala Host, Gossip Girl’s Kelly Rutherford. The strikingly beautiful Rutherford was at ease throughout the night, dancing with guests and mingling with the night’s honorees. As Rutherford explained, her enthusiasm for the Gift of Life was largely due to Abo’s passionate energy, “Jessica is unstoppable—I’d get behind anything she was supporting.” Rutherford went on to explain the importance for building awareness of the Gift of Life. “It’s so easy to take a simple swab and submit yourself as a potential match. If my family were going through something like this I would do anything to find their match so it’s critical for making more people aware of this important foundation.”
The black-tie affair consisted of an open bar, a special VIP section, silent auction items and dancing to conclude the night. The most emotional part of the evening was when Abo and Rutherford presented awards to patients/survivors and their families. The award was named after Ayelet Galena, a two-year who lost her battle to a rare bone marrow failure disorder in January 2012. It was hard to find a dry eye in the room as Ayelet’s father, Seth spoke of Ayelet’s courage and how her legacy continues to inspire bone marrow patients around the world.
The true star of the night however was Gala Chair, Jessica Abo. A proclaimed philanthropist, Abo chooses a deserving charity every four years to promote. Guests, hosts, patients and their families had nothing but praise for the NY1 reporter and her dedication to the Gift of Life. As Abo explained Ayelet’s story was a defining factor for why she chose to focus her philanthropic efforts on the Gift of Life. “There was a perfect bone marrow match for Ayelet, we just didn’t find them in time,” Abo explained. “I want to make sure that from now on everyone finds their match.”
Bone marrow testing can be done painlessly with a simple swab of an individual’s cheek however, the processing of a single swab kit is expensive, costing nearly $60 for each kit. Since the launch of Abo’s partnership with the Gift of Life in May 2012, the foundation has raised over $250,000–enough to process over 4,000 swab kits.
The night was extremely moving and motivating for guests to continue in Abo and Rutherford’s footsteps in promoting this wonderful cause. I plan on getting tested soon and I encourage everyone to do so, in the effort of becoming someone’s much needed match. To learn more about the Gift of Life and how you can become tested, visit their website.