Ghana, Baby, Ghana: Rap Mogul Russell Simmons Honored by US Doctors for Africa

“A lot of times people think they’re struggling. They have all the most obvious resources they need, but they somehow think they want more,” said the hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, in blue blazer and Yankees hat (give it a rest, fella!), standing in front of Cipriani Wall Street, that age-old site of struggle, as a phalanx of photographers clicked their flashbulbs.

Nearby, cast members from the soap opera Guiding Light were inspecting a mobile medical clinic soon to be dispatched to Ghana by the organization US Doctors for Africa. Mr. Simmons and several CEO types were being honored at the group’s first gala benefit on Thursday, Oct. 18. “I’ve not been to Ghana,” he said. “But it’s very good to look out for other people.”

Miss USA 2007, Rachel Smith, was also posing for the cameras. “I could not be more honored to be here supporting such an incredible endeavor and raising so many millions of dollars to support mobile clinics such as these,” she intoned. How’s she liking the gig, asked the Transom, trying desperately to knock her off-message. “I’ve gotta go, go, go, all the time! On such little sleep! But it’s a year full of blessings and I’m completely honored to be partaking in this journey.” Right, right.

Later, inside the massive ballroom, guests including Leighton Meester, nubile star of CW’s Gossip Girl, and the director Brett Ratner digested a four-course meal while photographs of impoverished African villages played on large flat screens.