Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And Now for the Social Season: Nan Lightstone Fundraiser

As the weather dips, many of us are still riding our bicycles. But this is also a time when partying takes on greater importance.

Ilona Gale and Matt Bigler of Bicycle Habitat

For one, you don't have to get up at 6 am every morning to do a training ride, because well, sometimes it's just pouring rain.

Like it was, all cats and dogs of it when BBB took herself over to the Nan Lightstone fundraiser on West 25th street last Saturday night. At the behest of Ilona Gale of Bicycle Habitat, Hotvelociti donated two bike jerseys worth $98 each for a night of bidding.

All of the goods from several generous companies were arranged around the room awaiting written bids, and donated champagne from Perrier Jouet along with other donated delicious foodstuffs and a mountain of mouth watering chocolate (see ONE plate of many right), kept the New York crowd buzzing around the tables. A DJ spun dance tunes for women in high heels and minis despite the furious downpour outside and men in chic downtown garb--skinny pants and neatly polished hair.

Nan Lightstone was an 18-year-old top performing Rutgers student who traveled to Israel as a volunteer, contracted Meningococcemia and died suddenly. A close cousin to bacterial Meningitis, Meningococcemia is an acute and potentially life-threatening infection of the bloodstream that leads to inflammation of the blood vessels. It is highly contagious because it can be spread through cough droplets and often the people who have it are not aware that they are sick. It is recommended that college age children who live in close proximity to one another (dorms) get vaccinated, said a write up on Google (as if they were the experts, just talk to your healthcare professional!).

A few of Lightstone's friends, including Lori Kagan, Shivani Nazareth, Jennifer Mittelman, Josh Cohen, and Rashi Rohatgin started the Nan Lightstone Foundation, and invited Nan's sister Lightstone's sister Rachyl Lightstone Kaplan to work with them. So many friends, and friends of friends showed up for this $85 a person shindig, including Cohen's parents who traveled all the way from the west coast for the event.

Rachyl Lightstone Kaplan and Lori Kagen 

The foundation's purpose is to fund the search for cures of all infectious diseases, help provide early screening devices, and insure rapid treatment to "keep Nan’s memory alive and hopefully spare others from the pain and loss that we all feel from her premature death," says a statement on her website.

It is not clear how far afield the group will go from the classic Meningeal bacterial strains for their purposes, since the universe of infectious diseases is endless and constantly mutating, such as the SARS scare last year, and the H1N1 virus which came to the U.S. earlier this year and has since re-emerged this fall season more threatening and potent than ever.

A T&Co employee smells the Aqua de Parma

Since the dawn of time (classic Darwinists and the religious right will disagree on when this started), bacterial and viral diseases have threatened the human (and animal) population, and thanks to their fancy gene-mutating footwork, they will continue to chase us, make us sick, and unfortunately kill us. Recall the great diseases captured in fiction by Albert Camus, La Peste (the Plague) where few escape its nasty grasp, and the reason is that society has turned it's back on nature. Sound familiar?

Currently a vaccine exists for meningococcal meningitis, but as with other bacteria, different strains develop and may not be covered by it. There are 30 other diseases for which there currently do not exists any vaccinations, and they are being targeted by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Bank to develop some form of protection.

Lightstone died in 1995: this past weekend she would have been 32 years old, and mingling with all her friends.

HV goods waiting to be bid on

Among the glittering items that people could bid on were a huge basket of Aqua di Parma goodies, children's goodies from MTV, an Elsa Peretti necklace from Tiffany and Co., one night with a DJ (playing music), a pearl necklace by Ralph PJ Diamonds, dinners out at several New York eateries, many fantastic chocolates from four different companies including a $10 per bar Madagascar chocolate called Madecasse that is sure to improve your sex life, yoga classes, a snazzy yellow bag by Big Buddha (created by 25-year-old sensation Jeremy Bassan), and four tickets to see the Daily Show with Jon Stewart live.

Jennifer Fishbein who won the bid on Jon Stewart's tickets said she also won last year--she paid $240 in the end, for a bid that started at $75 and made it's way up feverishly through the night.  "There is no price tag on it," she said. (Below, Fishbein holding her four tickets and winning bid.)

Brian Friedman kept coming back to check the bids on two tickets on Jet Blue to anywhere in the US--those also went for a steal at the end of the night--about $1,000 but worth about $4,000.

Several Tiffany and Co. employees hovered near the chocolates, though not eating a speck of it: one put in her bid for a basket of her favorite skincare line which was worth about $250--she got it for $75.

Personally I love this system for bidding because as  the time for the final bid comes near, those who really want the item will make their final bigger pitch--and thus increase the cash amount to the fundraiser.

Matt Bigler, son of Charlie McCorkell of Bicycle Habitat represented the store with their donation of a massive--non-pickable bike chain, a $100 value, it went for about $50 at the end of the night.

PS if you really like the chocolate idea and you live in San Francisco, check out the Chocolate Show on November 14th! Madecasse will be there with samples of their sexy Madagascar chocolates.

And no, BBB did not receive any incentive, advertising dollars, cash or product for this or any part of this blog!

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