Healing, hope and the power of women to make a difference were the focus at the annual East End Chapter/Jeanne Kaye League of New York City Spirit of Life® Awards celebration on June 8 at The Plaza. This year’s event honored actor and advocate Jane Fonda and Delta Air Lines Senior Vice President, Sustainability Performance and Strategic Partnerships Gail Grimmett.
The event marked a full return to in-person gathering for the chapter after a hiatus, adding to the celebratory mood. Nearly $400,000 was raised for City of Hope. Speakers included special guest, actress Candice Bergen and author and Today Show contributor Joy Bauer. Linda Malkas, Ph.D., Department of Molecular Diagnostics & Experimental Therapeutics professor and the M.T. & B.A. Ahmadinia Professor in Molecular Oncology at City of Hope shared exciting progress with a new cancer therapy she is developing, illustrating the life-changing impact of the research made possible by City of Hope’s supporters. Emmy Award-winning television journalist Jane Hanson kept things running smoothly as host.
Remarks from Kristin Bertell, City of Hope’s chief philanthropy officer, highlighted the importance of the chapter's philanthropy in funding research that brings new treatments and new hope.
“All of you in this room today are continuing a powerful legacy of generosity and commitment begun by the inspiring women who came before us, " Bertell told the audience. "You are helping give patients and their families the gift of more time, the gift of a return to health, the gift of a new tomorrow, and a better outcome."
The East End Chapter/Jeanne Kaye League of New York City has raised money for City of Hope for over four decades. The chapter includes 500 New York women led by co-presidents Lisa Kaye Fuld, Anne Levine, and Honey Cook, as well as a dedicated board. Since it began, the East End Chapter has raised millions of dollars in support of new medical innovations for people with cancer and their families.
“We continue to fight, generation after generation. What my mother began, what my sister and I continued, is now a legacy being continued by my daughter and her friends,” said Fuld, whose mother was one of the founders of the East End Chapter. “Mother Teresa once said, ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’ Today we continue to make our ripple, knowing it will lead to a wave of healing.”
The Spirit of Life® Award is City of Hope’s highest honor. It pays tribute to leaders in business, entertainment, science, and philanthropy who help bring about positive change that improves the lives of others. This year’s recipients continued this tradition.
Fonda has played many roles throughout her lifetime, including actor, fitness enthusiast, feminist, and activist. As a strong public advocate, she has used her celebrity to promote numerous social justice initiatives, including protecting the environment, fighting racism, and empowering women and girls.
Fonda announced she had non-Hodgkin lymphoma in September 2022. After several rounds of chemotherapy, her cancer is now in remission. In her acceptance speech Fonda expressed gratitude to her doctor, and to City of Hope for its contributions to the advances in cancer care.
A climate activist, Fonda also drew a connection between cancer and fossil fuel emissions. She called on the U.S. health care system, including City of Hope, to be more aggressive in reducing dependency on fossil fuels.
Grimmett’s professional accomplishments as a senior executive at Delta Airlines are respected worldwide. In her current role, she leads Delta’s efforts to develop innovative, sustainable solutions to advance the future of aviation.
For 11 years, Grimmett’s husband, Darrell, lived with multiple myeloma. He died in 2019, roughly three and a half years after receiving a bone marrow transplant. Grimmett considers those years a gift made possible by clinical research.
In accepting her award Grimmett was unequivocal about the need to support research advances at City of Hope. Invoking the tenacious spirit of her late husband, she called for "no mercy" in the fight against cancer. Grimmett said now is the time to accelerate, not slow down, a commitment to City of Hope's mission.
The Spirit of Life® Award luncheon was produced by Tony Award winner Scott H. Mauro for Scott Mauro Entertainment, Inc.