Over 250 guests raised over $200,000 for breast health education Saturday, June 11, enjoying cocktails, fine Italian dining, casino games and a celebrity MC at the annual Maurer Foundation Pink Diamond Dinner. The purpose of the event was to raise valuable funds to support the Foundation’s ongoing breast health and cancer prevention seminars offered to schools, corporations, and community groups.
This year’s honoree was long-time Maurer Foundation supporter and Long Island philanthropist John King, Chief Customer Officer of J. Kings Food Service Professionals, Inc. Master of Ceremonies (MC) Ralph Macchio introduced King. “John King is a friend extraordinaire. Whether he’s putting our fund raising events over-the-top or launching a new creative marketing approach to a vexing problem, the Maurer Foundation has benefited from John’s brilliance. John continues to give selflessly and champion our cause in so many ways and we are truly grateful for his friendship and partnership.”
Ralph Macchio, the event’s MC, is a native Long Islander and acclaimed actor. Macchio came to know the Maurer Foundation through founder and breast surgeon Dr. Virginia E. Maurer, who treated someone close to him for breast cancer. Macchio is best known for his lead role in The Karate Kid (1984) and his role in My Cousin Vinny (1992). He has recently appeared in Dancing With the Stars. Macchio and his wife, Phyllis Macchio were greeted by excited Maurer Foundation supporters and offered their time for autographs, conversations, and photos.
Fran Rooney, breast cancer survivor and guest speaker at the 2011 Pink Diamond Dinner, spoke about the importance of the Maurer Foundation’s mission of early detection of breast cancer. “…I really was one of the lucky ones. My cancer was detected early. Had I waited, or had Dr. Maurer waited, I might not be here today,” shared Rooney. “Women want and need to be empowered, not only after a diagnosis of breast cancer, but before. Being informed gives us the power to make choices for ourselves. We don’t have to be victims. …Early detection is the key….”
Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook, NY hosted the Dinner and wowed guests with samples of fine Italian wine, Italian hor’deurves, and a variety of cooking stations. Chef Joe DiNicola, of Ruvo and La Tavola restaurants, and Chef George Consentino of Ristorante Gemelli, entertained attendees with expert cooking demonstrations.
The Dinner’s theme was “A Night at the Casino” and was organized by M&M Entertainment. Attendees tested their luck at blackjack, Texas hold’em style poker, roulette, craps, blackjack, slot machines, money wheel and other popular casino games with custom “fun money” printed with honoree John King’s portrait. Prizes were awarded to the top six highest scores from the casino and included donated items from Americana Manhasset, Kitchen Kabaret, Tiffany & Co., Great Rock Country Club, Orpheus Day Spa and Salon, and Capitol Hill restaurant.
The Dinner’s $10,000 cash raffle was awarded to lucky winner Frank Pignataro of EB Elliot’s restaurant in Freeport, NY. After the winnings were collected, the raffle raised over ,000 for breast health education. Maurer Foundation Development Officer Jennifer Hirsch credits the J. Kings sales team for the raffle’s amazing success. “They not only got the word out about the raffle, but they sold more than $15,000 worth of raffle tickets. Our raffle would not have been a success without their diligent help.”
The Judith Ripka silent jewelry auction, coordinated and staffed by Helping Hand, raised $4700, $1000 more than last year.
The Maurer Foundation Pink Diamond Dinner was sponsored by 16 generous organizations and donors, with dozens additionally supporting the Foundation through online journal ads, casino playing table sponsorships and in-kind donations. The Foundation would particularly like to thank Capital One Bank and J. Kings Food Service Professionals, Inc, who were event sponsors at the Pink Diamond level, as well as the Niki & Joe Gregory Charitable Foundation, and Becky and John Halleron, who supported the event at the Pink Heart levels.
The Maurer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit based in Mineola, Long Island, NY. The Foundation’s mission is to save lives through breast health education that focuses on breast cancer prevention, early detection, risk reduction and healthy lifestyle choices.
PHOTOS: Malcolm Brown Photography