Last month, more than 700 tuxedoed and ball-gowned revelers gathered in the Museum of Natural History’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life for the annual S.L.E. Lupus Foundation gala. As the attendees feasted on black American caviar, Margaret Dowd, the foundation’s executive director, was marveling at something else: the size of the crowd.
The foundation had not seen so many people at its annual gala since 2007. “It’s been very tough the last few years, and we had to cut expenses drastically,” she said. “In 2009, many of our donors said, ‘Our portfolios were really harmed and we have to cut our donations, but we’ll be back.’ And they did come back. This year has been much, much better.”
The benefit raised $2.5 million—a significant jump from the $2.2 million raised at last year’s. Things have not returned to the 2007 level, when the gala’s $3.2 million haul set a national record, which has yet to be topped, for lupus research funds collected at a single event, but the foundation is on track to raise 10 to 12 percent more this year than the previous one. Ms. Dowd added that the nonprofit’s spring luncheon saw such a dramatic spike in attendance this year—a 30 percent increase—that next year they plan to hold it in the Plaza.
ivory tower crime
On Monday night, John Cabot University celebrated its 40th anniversary with a gala at the New York Athletic Club. Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio del Vecchio and Valerie Salembiier of Town and Country magazine were honored, and soprano Krista Adams sang arias. It was an evening of toasts to the American university in Rome, an evening that the university hoped might supplant the brutal and seemingly senseless stabbing of one student, allegedly by another, that dominated the headlines less than two weeks before.
After clubbing and drinking for hours on Halloween night, two John Cabot students returned with friends to their off-campus apartment overlooking the Colosseum. Then, in the early hours of the morning, while Fabio Malpeso slept, his friend and roommate Alessandro Skepys Reid allegedly stabbed him 25 times. Mr. Malpeso’s sister and her boyfriend, who were also staying in the apartment that night, came to his aid. Mr. Reid, an Italian-American with dual citizenship, said he cannot remember, or explain, why he may have stabbed his friend.
We had meticulously prepared for the philanthropic fundraiser on Thursday evening at The Desmond Tutu Centre, reading up on Princeton In Africa’s impressive resume, specifically about how the fellowship program had dispatched 34 fellows to spend a year undertaking various schemes across the vast continent during each of its 12 years since conception. But it was all for naught as we were handed presser upon presser at our arrival. Would we only be able to speak when spoken to? Would the patrons not prove ample?