On Friday, April 15th, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) advocate and Center Without Walls founder, Nancy Davis, welcomed guests to the Beverly Hilton for the 23rd Annual Race To Erase MS Gala.
The event raised over $1.6 million to benefit the Race to Erase MS and its Center Without Walls program, a collaboration of top MS research centers working together as a team on ground-breaking research with the goal of treating and, ultimately, finding a cure for MS.
Celebrity guests at this year’s event included host Nancy Davis, honoree Carolyn Rafaelian, musical performers KISS, Jordan Smith, and Eric Benét, musical director David Foster, presenters Randy Jackson, LL Cool J, Jaime Pressly, and Ashley Tisdale, along with guests Loni Anderson, Garcelle Beauvais, Paget Brewster, Wendy Burch, Dove Cameron, Francesca Capaldi, Artem Chigvintsev, Tommy Chong, Lisa Daftari, Christine Devine, Carmen Electra, Emblem3, David Faustino, Frances Fisher, Doug Flutie, Clementine Ford, Teri Garr, Kat Graham, Marg Helgenberger, Annie Ilonzeh, BC Jean, Larry King, Justin Kirk, Camilla Luddington, Ross Matthews, Katherine McNamara, AJ Michalka, Aly Michalka, Megan Nicole, Naya Rivera, Shaun Robinson, Jillian Rose Reed, Olivia Sanabia, Rhea Seehorn, Cybill Shepherd, Jojo Siwa, Edyta Śliwińska, Anna Trebunskaya, Louis Van Amstel, Kirsten Vangness, Clay Walker, Diane Warren, Dave Winfield, and many more.
LL Cool J opened the night with touching remarks, introducing host and organization founder Nancy Davis. Nancy Davis welcomed guests to the legendary gala, and presented the 2016 Medal of Hope Award to ALEX AND ANI‘s Carolyn Rafaelian, noting Carolyn’s remarkable commitment to giving back, not just to Race to Erase MS but to so many.
The 23rd Annual Race to Erase MS Gala included a live auction, which was introduced by Jaime Pressly. Lucky bidders walked away with items including a Hawaiian vacation for two, tea at the Peninsula Hotel with Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, and an 8-day African SkySafari. The big item of the night was a private yacht tour of the Bahamas, which went for an incredible $30,000.
Following the auction, musical director David Foster brought Eric Benét onstage for a moving tribute to a longtime supporter and friend of the cause, the late Natalie Cole, with a rendition of “Unforgettable.” He turned the stage back over to Nancy Davis so that she could recognize the doctors from the Center Without Walls in person, bringing them onstage to introduce them to the crowd. Next, Ashley Tisdale introduced Jordan Smith, who gave an incredible performance that included his original song “Stand in the Light.” Randy Jackson then introduced iconic band KISS, who performed hit songs including “Deuce,” “Calling Dr. Love,” “Cold Gin,” and fan-favorite “Rock And Roll All Nite.”
In what has become a Race to Erase MS tradition over the past 23 years, an uplifting rendition of “Lean On Me,” was performed as the finale of the evening, led by Emblem3, who were joined on stage by Nancy Davis, David Foster, BC Jean, David Foster, and more.
Each guest received a coveted Race to Erase MS gift bag, bursting at the seams with an amazing selection of items including gifts from MAC Cosmetics, ALEX AND ANI, and Peter Thomas Roth, to name a few.
The evening was generously sponsored by The Beverly Hilton, Associated Television International, and ALEX AND ANI Charity by Design.
Race to Erase MS is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure for MS. Funding research is the core focus of the foundation and significant strides have been made to find the cause and cure of this debilitating disease. At the event’s inception 23 years ago, the absence of medications and therapies encouraged its involvement; the Race has been instrumental in funding many pilot studies that have contributed to drugs now on the market and other very important therapies that are improving the lives of people suffering from MS.
All funds raised support the Center Without Walls program, a unique collaboration of the world’s leading MS research scientists currently representing Harvard, Yale, Cedars Sinai, University of Southern California, Oregon Health Science University, UC San Francisco and Johns Hopkins. This nationwide collaboration of physicians, scientists and clinicians are on the cutting-edge of innovative research and therapeutic approaches to treat MS. It is the hope of the Race to Erase MS that in addition to combating MS through research in a clinical environment, awareness will be created by educating the public about this mysterious disease.