Attendees at the 61st annual Spirit of Achievement Luncheon, hosted by Einstein’s Women’s Division on May 19 at the Rainbow Room, enjoyed breathtaking views of Manhattan as they celebrated this year’s honorees: actress Candice Bergen, opera star Renée Fleming and Einstein-Montefiore pediatric heart specialists Drs. Daphne Hsu and Robert Pass. The event benefited research by leading scientists at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center focusing on ovarian, breast, uterine, cervical, prostate, lung, colon and pancreatic cancers as well as leukemia and lymphoma.
Spirit Luncheon co-chairs (from left) Terri Goldberg, Andrea Stark and Carol RoamanEmmy Award-winning TV personality Jill Martin, a past Spirit honoree, donated her time and talent as the afternoon’s emcee. The event chairs were Carol Roaman, president of the Women’s Division, and executive board members Andrea Stark and Terri Goldberg. Ms. Roaman, who lost her daughter to ovarian cancer, praised Einstein cancer researchers in her welcoming remarks. Noting this year’s new venue for the luncheon, she said, "The Rainbow Room symbolizes Einstein and Montefiore’s bright future."
Other luminaries in the audience included past Sprit honorees actress Christine Baranski, Olympic figure-skating champion Sarah Hughes, longtime Women’s Division board members Broadway producer Daryl Roth and art collector/philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau, and Einstein faculty members Drs. Susan Band Horwitz and Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller. Also present were Dr. Steven M. Safyer, president and CEO of Montefiore Health System; Dr. Philip O. Ozuah, executive vice president and COO of Montefiore; Roger W. Einiger, chair of Einstein’s Board of Overseers and Dr. Ruth L. Gottesman, immediate past chair.
(From left) Candice Bergen, Renée Fleming and Christine Baranski
Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, Einstein’s Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, introduced a video detailing how Drs. Hsu and Pass and a team of Montefiore doctors provided lifesaving heart transplant surgery to 17-year-old Brianna Barker. Following the video, Ms. Barker took the podium to rousing applause. She thanked the research and medical teams at Einstein and Montefiore and asked Dean Spiegel and Ms. Martin to join her in presenting Spirit of Achievement awards to Drs. Hsu and Pass. Before calling up the two honorees she announced she’ll be starting her freshman year at Pennsylvania State University this fall.
Dr. Hsu, division chief of pediatric cardiology and co-director of the pediatric heart center at Einstein and the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), remarked that she’s excited about the current plans for Einstein and Montefiore to strengthen their longtime working partnership, and about following Brianna’s future successes in life. Dr. Pass, associate professor of pediatrics at Einstein and director of the pediatric cardiac catheterization laboratory and of pediatric electrophysiology services at CHAM, thanked Dr. Hsu and his other mentors at the College of Medicine, his “role model” parents and his patients, "who inspire me on a daily basis."
Ms. Fleming and Ms. Bergen received their Spirit of Achievement awards later in the program.
Drs. Hsu and Pass receive their awards, flanked by Jill Martin, Briana Barker and Dean SpiegelIn her acceptance remarks, Ms. Fleming, a Grammy Award-winner and the first classical singer to perform "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl, noted, "Classical singers share a trait with medical researchers who are on a lifelong quest to master an unruly instrument." As an artist whose art focuses on breath control, she was "amazed" to learn about an innovative inhalation therapy developed by Einstein and Montefiore researchers to combat lung cancer, which recently struck a close family member. She also paid tribute to two of her mentors, "extraordinary sopranos" and past Spirit honorees Leontyne Price and Marilyn Horne.
Widely acclaimed as the iconoclastic TV journalist Murphy Brown in the long-running television comedy of the same name, Ms. Bergen was visibly moved by Brianna Barker’s story. Calling the work of the doctors at Einstein and Montefiore "staggering," she declared Drs. Hsu and Pass "my new heroes." Noting that she lost her first husband, French film director Louis Malle, to lymphoma, and that her current husband, real estate developer Marshall Rose, lost his first wife to breast cancer, she told the Women’s Division members, "I salute you and have great respect for the work you do."
Posted on: Friday, June 19, 2015