Every year for the past sixteen years, socialite-activist Nancy Davis and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger join forces to create the Race to Erase MS. It is traditionally one of the biggest charity events held in Los Angeles, the land of weekly give-back-to-others affairs. Held Friday night May 8, 2009, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Century City, it was definitely the town’s hot ticket of the week, raising $2 million towards the cause of eradicating the disease.
Davis, who has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for the last 17 years, established the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis all those years ago; and they must be doing something right, for she still looks like the picture of health.
“I didn’t want my children to have to take care of me,” Davis, the daughter of the late billionaire oilman Marvin Davis, admitted to the packed ballroom after spending two hours circulating at the massive silent auction-cocktail party, where tons of Hollywood’s most famous faces made the scene. Jon Lovitz and Bill Maher wandered around checking out the pretty girls in the house, while Nia Vardalos jumped into the Lamborghini Gallardo 560-4 Spyder that later was auctioned off for $270,000. Nice tax write off!
Kim Kardashian brought her main squeeze, pro football star Reggie Bush (see the first photo above, by Stefanie Keenan), and Angie Harmon was on the arm of her own gridiron guy, hubbie Jason Seahorn. As usual, Penny Marshall did a lot of bidding, while Daisy Fuentes and Kristin Cavallari posed for countless photo ops.
Once the festivities inside began, the feeling of the night went from schmoozing fun to buoyant optimism, as MS sufferer (and our favorite female comedic actress ever) Teri Garr was able to walk out on to the stage, to thunderous applause and more than a few tears.
“For the past few years I have come on stage in a wheelchair,” Garr crowed, “and look at me now! I am the poster child for MS.”
Joining her in her upbeat attitude were Blair Underwood and Nancy O’Dell; both their mothers suffer from the insidious autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system, so they were happy to be a part of the show. Mario Lopez hosted, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hit the stage, Michelle Branch played a set, and Jewel turned out to introduce the big draw of the evening, the Eagles.
The Eagles and Michelle Branch perform at the Race to Erase MS. Photo by Stefanie Keenan.Spread across the stage seated on stools and all playing guitars were the original members of that legendary band – Glenn Fry, Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmidt, and Joe Walsh. They kept Jeremy Piven, Anne Heche, James Tupper, Avril Lavigne, Sela Ward, Kelly Lynch, Amanda Bynes, Ioan Gruffudd, and Alice Evans glued to their seats, but not Dustin Hoffman.
“Gotta get to the valet before the crowd,” Hoffman laughed as he and his wife headed out before the band sang a 20-minute set including “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” “Take It to the Limit,” and the Race to Erase MS theme song “Lean on Me.”
“Let’s hope one day soon we find a cure and don’t have to meet like this again,” she declared. For more information or to make a contribution to the charity go to www.erasems.org.