“You know, I don’t even think she did charity work before the show,” Real Housewives of New York star Sonja Morgan whispered to The New York Observer last night during Harboring Hearts first annual Spring Gala. Ms. Morgan was complaining about one of her fellow co-stars. “I asked her ex-husband, and he was like, ‘She never did charity work.’”
Ms. Morgan wanted us to know that she, on the other hand, was fully devoted to her causes, including New Yorkers for Children, the ASPCA, and a new project with her daughters involving her former house-turned-French American museum, the Blérancourt.
And, after all, weren’t we all gathered at the Rubin Museum of Art (with its amazing exhibit of Tibetan comic books in the basement) that evening to toast two young women–Michelle Javian and Yuki Kotani–for their charity? Harboring Hearts places heart patients and their families in “home-like environments” while they are in New York receiving treatment. The charity also provides a network of support and a community of resources for those suffering from the physically and financially draining experience of heart transplant surgery.
Ms. Javian and Ms. Kotani met at New York Presbyterian, after both their fathers suffered from heart attacks that required immediate surgery. Ms. Kotani’s father survived, Ms. Javian’s didn’t. A year later, in 2008, the two founded Harboring Hearts. Last night they celebrated Dr. Yoshifumi Naka and Dr. Donna Mancini for their work in the field of medicine. The gala was co-chaired by Hope Geier Smith and Claudia Chan, and although Dr. Oz couldn’t make it, he did send a video greeting. ZocDoc co-founder Cyrus Massoumi also took the mic to praise the young women’s initiative.
The first musical entertainment of the evening was provided by Clay Aiken, American Idol winner and Celebrity Apprentice runner-up. He was introduced by Eric Trump, who noted that Mr. Aiken was the only contestant in the history of the show to ever make it through without the audience hating them. Mr. Aiken sang two songs, one of which was “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”
Mr. Trump had gone to Georgetown with Ms. Javian, and used his considerable clout to get the attendees to cough up more money. Noting that the charity had already raised $220,000 for the evening, Mr. Trump took up the bidding to raise an extra $50,000. After several hands were raised, Mr. Trump singled out Stewart Rahr, the former pharmaceutical giant and current philanthropist. (Mr. Rahr is the largest donor to the Make-A-Wish Foundation ever, and was listed by Forbes as #960 of the world’s billionaires.)
“I know you’re going to give something, Stewart!” Mr. Trump proclaimed. Mr. Rahr did indeed make a donation…of $100,000.
“When I saw what these young women were doing, it was so inspiring,” Mr. Rahr told us, before noting that our publication had once written a piece about him.
Also on hand for the evening were Archie Comics publisher Nancy Silberkleit, Forbes’ G2 Investment Group’s Kevin Murray, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark‘s Mat Devine, Lou Dembrow and Jon Dembrow, Alexandra Richards (who also DJ’d part of the evening along with Nick Cohen of Upper Echelon Shoes), and R. Couri Hay. The liquor was provided in light-up form, courtesy of the LED-bottle vodka, Medea.
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