“I don’t know how we became friends, but we did,” began Whoopi Goldberg of her dear comrade and Law & Order star S. Epatha Merkerson.
Last night, Ms. Goldberg presented Ms. Merkerson with a Help and Hope Award at CancerCare’s annual spring gala for her considerable efforts as an advocate of the fight against cancer.
“I don’t have anyone like her in my life,” said Ms. Goldberg to the audience filling Mandarin Oriental’s ballroom. “She has never made me feel bad for the things I do.”
“Smoking!” chided Ms. Merkerson to the dismay of the undoubtedly anti-smoking, anti-cancer philanthropists.
“Yes—the legal stuff,” Ms. Goldberg confessed.
“Cigarettes!” Ms. Merkerson hissed for all to hear. Everyone chuckled.
After accepting her Tiffany & Co. crystal, Ms. Merkerson, holding back tears, spoke to her profound experience with CancerCare.
“This is the menopause, y’all,” she said in reference to her weepy demeanor. “I’m gonna flow with it.”
“This is a humbling experience,” she continued. “I believe in the care that they give to each client and family. I believe in CancerCare.”
Many may recall that her character on Law & Order, Anita van Buren, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the drama’s final season. A lesser-known fact is that several of Ms. Merkerson’s family members have battled various cancers and received support from CancerCare, which provides cancer victims and their caregivers and families with counseling, support and financial help. In 2011 alone, over 110,000 people benefited from CancerCare.
The gala serves as the organization’s biggest yearly philanthropic initiative. Guests received iPod Touches retrofitted with BidPal, allowing them to place and monitor bids without missing a beat of the action in the ballroom.
Lively Sotheby’s auctioneer C. Hugh Hildesley managed to squeeze every last penny out of the well-heeled crowd with glitzy packages to Paris and the Emmy Awards. Over $100,000 was raised from bid donations alone.
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