The Marfan Foundation announced today that it raised more than $1.2 million last night at its 17th Heartworks gala in New York City. More than 500 people were on-hand as the Foundation honored Karen Murray, the recently named CEO of Sequential Brands Group, with its first Inspiration of Excellence Award and presented its prestigious Hero with a Heart Awards to Joseph Coselli, MD, Professor of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, and Sinclair Li, Executive Vice President, CBRE Inc.
Actress and comedian Julie Halson was master of ceremonies for the gala, which featured a performance by Stephanie Mills, including her Grammy Award-winning song, Never Knew Love Like This Before. Broadway starts Ann Reinking, whose son has Marfan syndrome, and Bebe Neuwirth were among those in the audience.
“We are truly moved to see the incredible support for the Foundation here in New York,” said Michael Weamer, President and CEO, The Marfan Foundation. “It was also heart-warming to have so many people with Marfan or a related disorder at the event to celebrate our honorees with us. Because of this gala, we are able to continue to provide and expand our life-saving programs and services for our patient community as we work to not only extend their lives, but also to improve their quality of life.”
Murray, whose son, Michael, was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome twenty years ago at the age of five, is the Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. She is a driving force in the Marfan and related disorders community, providing strategic direction in the areas of research, legislative advocacy, public awareness, and patient support. In addition, she has advocated on Capitol Hill for research funding, appeared on countless national television programs and in other national media to increase awareness, and has served as corporate host of Heartworks since its inception in 1998.
Dr. Coselli, who specializes in the evaluation and surgical treatment of aortic diseases, is the Vice-Chair of the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, holds the Cullen Foundation Endowed Chair, and is Professor and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. He serves as Chief of Adult Cardiac Surgery at Texas Heart Institute and Associate Chief of the Cardiovascular Service at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. He is Program Director of the Thoracic Surgery Residency at THI/BCM and directs the Aortic Fellowship Program at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Coselli has been a member of The Marfan Foundation’s Professional Advisory Board for 25 years and has co-hosted two of the Foundation’s Annual Conferences in Houston.
Sinclair Li, who is an Executive Vice President at CBRE, Inc., survived an aortic dissection in 2011 at the age of 35. He credits the amazing work of his surgeon and cardiologist with his subsequent recovery and return to health. Sinclair has since been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm disorder that is related to Marfan. After his diagnosis, Sinclair learned that he inherited the condition from his father, who died at the age of 51 in 1996 from an aortic dissection; Sinclair’s two young sons, age 7 and 2, have the condition as well. Following his diagnosis, Sinclair has devoted a substantial amount of time to The Marfan Foundation to raise awareness and funding for research.
Heartworks has raised more than $13 million for the Foundation to date. The proceeds from the event are earmarked for the Foundation’s programs and services in the areas of education, patient support, and research.
The Foundation is grateful to its sponsors for their support of this event. They include Victory Sponsors Sequential Brands Group and VF Corporation; Innovation Sponsors Allen & Company, American Heart Association, Burlington Stores, KPMG, Macy’s and Bloomingdales, Karen Murray0063 and Harry Steinmetz, One Jeanswear Group, Ann Reinking, Ross Stores, Inc., Shoton and Witte Family, and Wendy and Stephen B. Siegel; and many Friends and Family Sponsors.
The Marfan Foundation is a nonprofit organization that saves lives and improves the quality of life of individuals with genetic aortic and vascular conditions including Marfan, Loeys-Dietz, and Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndromes. Our vision is a world in which everyone with genetic aortic and vascular conditions can live their best life.