A Midwinter’s Night Dream, an annual charity fundraiser held by Northport High School students that supports Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research was held last week at Oheka Castle on Long Island.

The event is unique in that it is run entirely by 43 high school students, ranging in age from 15 to 17 years old. Each year they honor several Heroes for Hope that give support and inspiration to the students and the charity. Past honorees include Nick Swisher, Billy Baldwin, Curt Schilling and Edie Falco. This year honorees included Curtis Martin from the New York Jets and Chris Pendergast from the Northport School District. Although he could not attend, New York Yankee Curtis Granderson accepted his award with a special video message to the students about the importance of the work that they do.

“It is truly an honor to be included with so many great individuals that have been involved with the AMND and named a Hero for Hope,” said Granderson. “However, it is you that should be considered the heroes, and I am proud to know that the future is in the hands of students like you.”

Billy Baldwin lead the live auction which included a reservation at Rao’s, tickets to the premiere of Soul Surfer (staring Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid and Carrie Underwood), a set visit to Boardwalk Empire and dinner with Steve Buscemi and Vincent Piazza. He then surprised the audience with a set visit to Gossip Girl. More than $100,000 was raised in the live auction, followed by a lightning round with donations by Curtis Martin, Adam Graves and Richard Kind.

Those in attendance also included: Students and faculty of the Northport High School, Billy Baldwin (Gossip Girl), Robert Burke (Blue Bloods), Adam Graves (New York Rangers), Sarah Hughes (Olympic Gold Medalist), Richard Kind (Toy Story 3), Curtis Martin (New York Jets), Jackie Martling (Comedian), Vincent Piazza(Boardwalk Empire), Caroline Rhea (The Biggest Loser) and Zuzanna Szadowski (Gossip Girl).

In 2006 they began an ALS Research Program, where the students participate in ALS research over the summer at the following labs: Jenifer Estess Stem Cell Lab, Jackson Labs, ALS TDI, Columbia University, ALS HOPE, Johns Hopkins and Stony Brook. AMND has also created and funded a variety of ALS-related initiatives including a patient services program for those diagnosed with ALS, and a Philanthropy Center that teaches grade school students about the importance of philanthropic work in their lives.

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