Last Thursday night, the DKMS 5th Annual Gala raised a record $2.5 million to support the fight against leukemia and other blood related cancers. The money raised at the star-studded gala, which took place at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, will help register nearly 30,000 bone marrow donors and work to save lives worldwide.
Katharina Harf, COO of DKMS Americas presented an award to Rihanna in recognition for her tireless work in the fight against leukemia. “Anyone can be affected by leukemia,” said Rihanna. ""It is the number one disease children in the U.S. die of and we can change that. I encourage people to become bone marrow donors with DKMS. If we have more donors, we can save more lives."
Rihanna went on, “I would like to dedicate this award to Shannon Tavarez who fought so bravely against this disease but was tragically taken from us far too soon. Shannon was a great inspiration who selflessly promoted awareness of the need for donors, so that others may receive the help they need, and she will be missed.”
The event also honored Michael Clinton, president, marketing & publishing director at Hearst Magazines with the “DKMS-Linked Against Leukemia Award” for fighting cancer and supporting organizations and charities dedicated to the cause. “I am extremely honored to receive the prestigious DKMS Linked Against Leukemia Award,” said Michael Clinton. “Leukemia affects thousands of people every year but it doesn’t have to be fatal. Many patients could be saved by a bone marrow transplant, but there simply aren’t enough donors to help everyone. It’s so easy to get swabbed and potentially save a life.”
Pharrell Williams emceed the black tie event which included an emotional first time leukemia patient and donor meeting, a special Lion King performance in honor of Shannon Tavarez and a performance by Grammy Award winner, Mary J. Blige. Eva Mendes, Leighton Meester, Vera Wang, Iman & David Bowie, Solange Knowles and Cyndi Lauper also attended the star-studded gala.
At just fourteen years old, Katharina Harf, COO of DKMS Americas lost her mother to the life-threatening disease. She was in need of a bone marrow transplant and the search for a lifesaving donor seemed hopeless because, at the time, there were only 3,000 unrelated donors available.
Today DKMS is the largest bone marrow donor center in the world with over 2.7 million registered donors. Under Katharina Harf’s leadership DKMS Americas has registered more than 200,000 donors and has facilitated more than 350 lifesaving transplants. More than 25,000 DKMS donors worldwide have helped save lives by donating their bone marrow.
“Having the opportunity to introduce a DKMS donor to the woman, whose life he saved, at our annual Gala, emphasizes the importance of what we do. We are so grateful to our long term sponsors, whose generous support helps make this all possible, especially our legacy corporate sponsor Coty,” said Katharina Harf.
In October 2006, Coty Inc., a global beauty leader and the world’s largest fragrance company, joined DKMS in the fight against leukemia by establishing the Coty-DKMS Linked Against Leukemia partnership. Led by CEO Bernd Beetz, Coty has leveraged its strong celebrity partnerships to raise awareness of the disease and help DKMS recruit thousands of donors around the world.