Photos: Shahar Azran
The T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research celebrated its 36th Annual Honors Gala last Thursday (11/3) at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in New York.
This year the foundation presented the Humanitarian of the Year Award to Bea Perez, Chief Sustainability Officer for the Coca-Cola Company. The Spirit of Excellence Award was presented to Scott Borchetta, Chief Executive Officer of Big Machine Label Records. The Lifetime Philanthropic Award was presented to Arnold Palmer, Golf Legend and Philanthropist, and the Chairman’s Award was presented to actor and comedian Drew Carey.
When Borchetta accepted the award, he surprised the crowd with a donation to the foundation and a performance by Rascal Flatts. The Grammy winning group made up of Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney quickly took to the stage to oblige and performed a moving “I Won’t Let Go.” Martina McBride closed out the evening with the newly released “I’m Gonna Love You Through It,” a song about a woman’s fight against breast cancer and her husband’s devotion to support her.
Other attendees included Susan Lucci, Donald Trump and his wife Melania Knauss, Sam Simon, Will.i.am, Allan Harris and Robbie Rosen. Other performances included Darius Rucker, and Javier Colon.
Rucker was a presenter for legendary golf pro Palmer and told his personal story of how the Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando, Florida helped his young niece, Carly, battle cancer.
Many memorable moments occurred that night. Tony Martell, founder of the T.J. Martell Foundation, spoke of his late son and his legacy within the organization, often telling the crowd “life happens when you don’t expect it.” Colon, from The Voice, opened the performances after dedicating his performance to his mother who has survived a stage 4 cancer diagnosis for now over ten years.
Carey, who accepted his honor from presenter Simon, promised $35,000 to the T.J. Martell foundation personally. Wendy Dio, widow of the late Ronnie James Dio who passed away from cancer last year, followed Carey by giving a $100,000 donation to the T.J. Martell Foundation in her husband’s name. Trump made a late appearance and was lauded by both Martell and Palmer from the podium.