The New York City Mission Society held its annual Champions for Children fundraising Gala at the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, raising approximately $520,000.

This year’s event honored real estate mogul, investor and philanthropist Don Peebles and legendary actress and singer Diahann Carroll, as well as recognizing two lifetime members of the Mission Society’s Board of Directors: Dina Merrill Hartley and Lloyd W. Brown II. Co-chaired by Katrina Peebles and Jean Shafiroff, the benefit supported the Mission Society’s programs and services that help youth and families in our city’s most underserved communities break the cycle of poverty and achieve success. Notable attendees included television personality Gayle King, actress Cicely Tyson, former Mayor of New York City David Dinkins and theater producer Arny Granata.

The evening started with cocktails, followed by a program with dinner, music, and dancing. The Gala was emceed by WABC News Anchor Bill Ritter, a longtime supporter of the Mission Society. Performers included Kathy Sledge, the legendary voice of Sister Sledge; acclaimed singer Alex Donner and his Orchestra, and students enrolled in the Mission Society’s free afterschool music education program, GRIOT. Event Co-Chairs Katrina Peebles and Jean Shafiroff welcomed the attendees and highlighted some of the accomplishments The Mission Society has achieved in the past year. Mrs. Peebles congratulated the audience on a record breaking dinner as the attendance was nearly 50% larger than last year and the event sold out. The evening resumed with Donahue Peebles III called to the stage. He gave a passionate and warm introduction of his father, before presenting Don Peebles with his award.

Don Peebles gave a warm and inspiring speech, asking the audience to imagine if it were their kids in the position of so many NYC children who live in poverty and are served by the Mission Society and challenged them to give and continue to support its important efforts. He mentioned the three best days of his life, September 12, 1994 the day he married Katrina Peebles “the love of my life, my best friend and partner in life”; November 11, 2002 the day his daughter Chloe Alexandra Peebles was born and “today April 5th – not only because I am receiving this award but it’s the day Donahue was born in 1994!” He then went on to wish his son a happy 23rd birthday. His speech perpetuated the thought of him entering the NYC Mayoral race.

Diahann Carroll gave warm and thoughtful remarks remembering her time in NYC at the Mission School, her parents and her life in NYC. She remarked on the impressive diversity in the five star hotel ballroom and how she never sees this in LA. She was warmly embraced by the audience.

In addition to Gala Co-Chairs Katrina Peebles and Jean Shafiroff, this year’s Gala Committee included: Tommie Pegues (Gala Vice Chair), Peggy and John Bader, and Leah and Stanley Rumbough. Benefit Committee Members are: Alston & Bird, LLP, American Securities Foundation, Flo Anthony, Elaine Bernanke Appelle, Kim Bingham, Sophia Bishop, Jerry Bonura, Geoffrey Bradfield, Henry Buhl, Victor de Souza, Lee Fryd, Penny Grant, Jo’Vion (J.D.) Greer, Shannon Hales, Michelle Herbert, Missy Kilroy & Jay Moorhead, Barbara and Francis Kairson, Jr., Margo Langenberg, Brian Monroe, Riki Kane Larimer, Dustin Lujan, Lauren & James Peterson, Kim Renk & Greg Dyer, Natalie S. Ross, Helen Shelton, and Brooke and Derek Steinhiser.

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