At the annual Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine New York gala, comedians, celebrities and supporters raised over $1 million for scleroderma research, a complex autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects women, usually striking in the prime of their lives.

Bob Saget, an SRF board member who lost his sister to scleroderma, hosted the New York comedy gala on Dec. 11th to benefit the Scleroderma Research Foundation (SRF).

Saget was joined in the fundraising effort by comedians Michael Che, Andy Cohen, John Oliver, Jeff Ross, and special musical guest, Jackson Browne.

SRF is America’s first and leading nonprofit investor in medical research to find improved therapies and a cure for people living with scleroderma. Since its founding in 1987 by patient and fierce advocate, the late Sharon Monsky, the foundation has raised over $49 million to fund critical research. As put best by Monsky: “I could organize a support group to help people in my community living with scleroderma or I could establish an organization that would bring the best of science and technology together in an effort to discover better treatments and a cure for people everywhere living with scleroderma. It wasn’t easy, but I chose the latter.”

Since its founding, the SRF has taken a collaborative approach, bringing together some of the brightest minds in science to unravel the mystery of this complex autoimmune disease. The word scleroderma literally means “hard skin,” but the disease is much more, often affecting the internal organs with lethal consequences. In some cases, the joints and muscles are affected, resulting in severe pain and limited mobility. Vascular damage due to scleroderma can result in loss of fingers, toes and entire limbs — but the most serious complications involve the lungs and kidneys. Now, the SRF donates approximately 84% of its annual revenue to funding the most promising scleroderma research initiatives.

The success of Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine events held in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco has raised considerable awareness for scleroderma and enabled the SRF to fund innovative research bringing hope and helping to improve the quality of life for patients living with this debilitating disease. Last week’s gala marked 31 years of Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine events, with Robin Williams being one of the first comedians to perform in 1987, and subsequently returning to perform seven times throughout his life.

The Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine event featured performances by some of the biggest names in comedy. Celebrity chefs/restaurateurs Susan Feniger (also an SRF Board Member) and Mary Sue Milliken, Food Network’s Too Hot Tamales and both Bravo Top Chef Masters, prepared the multi-course “Hot Cuisine.” There was a live auction featuring unique packages such as a weekend VIP trip to the 2019 Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, and a unique, in-home dinner prepared by Celebrity Chefs Elizabeth Falkner, Amanda Cohen, and Anita Lo. The auction raised over $160,000 for the SRF and the scleroderma research it supports.

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