Race to Erase MS 2013
The 20th Anniversary May 3 affair, “Love to Erase MS” at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, rose to a new level, as the evening began with honors for the Osbourne family and ended with performances few people would expect to see close up at a charity gala: multi-platinum singer Taio Cruz and the legendary Sir Elton John.
Moreover, this year, the event raised $1.8 million for the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis, dedicated to finding treatments and an ultimate cure for MS.
Stars turned up onstage and in the audience as well. Marg Helgenberger, Neil Patrick Harris, Howie Mandel and Shaun Robinson all participated in ceremonies. Fashion design dynamo Tommy Hilfiger and his wife Dee Hilfiger mingled with party-goers perusing the auction tables during the cocktail reception.
More familiar faces in the crowd included Rod Stewart, Ray Romano, Anne Heche, Cybill Shepherd, La Toya Jackson, Daisy Fuentes, Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin.
More were Spice Girl Mel B, Victoria Justice, Cat Deeley, Aly Michalka, AJ Michalka, Bella Thorne, Ziggy Marley, Kristin Cavallari, Kathy Hilton, Camille Grammar and Kim Richards.
From “Dancing With the Stars” came judge Bruno Tonioli, this year’s contenders Kellie Pickler, Ingo Rademacher and Lisa Vanderpump; and pro dancers Anna Trebunskaya, Chelsie Hightower, Lindsay Arnold and Maxim Chmerkovskiy.
Pickler, seated across from me at dinner, said she was commuting back and forth to Nashville to record an album, dancing 6 hours a day and yet, through all, having fun. (Just thinking about such a schedule would tire some people out.)
As ceremonies got underway, Nancy Davis took the podium. “Can you feel the love tonight?” she said, as a prelude of the performance to come, before talking of the great progress made in the treatment of MS.
Kelly Osbourne next ascended the stage to present her mother, Sharon Osbourne, and brother, Jack Osbourne, with the charity’s “Medal of Hope.” All had words of praise for Davis, the charity and the gala, too.
Sharon Osbourne called Davis an “unbelievable gift from God.” Jack Osbourne, recently diagnosed with MS, said “This is like the Bar Mitzvah I never had.”
Rather than slowing the pace for the 11-item live auction, dinner was served as bidders raised their paddles for a top-of-the-line Aston Martin, South African safari, Fiji adventure at the new Vomo Island resort, vacation at Tommy Hilfiger’s private Mustique estate and an irresistible Maltese puppy and other items on the auction block.
With short, tidy speeches and an auction while we ate, this Gala was nothing if not efficient – definitely a big plus for L.A. gala-goers who like getting home at a reasonable hour.
Then again, no one complained about the length of the show. In fact, it seemed a great privilege to see these supernovas give lengthy and powerful performances in such proximity to us all.
First up: Taio Cruz with “Break Your Heart,” “Higher” and “Dynamite,” for which he asked the audience to sing along.
“I need everyone and I’m not just saying that. I actually really do mean everyone to help me sing along with this one,” Cruz said. “So this is your chance right now for you to sound sexy.”
For his part, Elton John gave virtually an entire concert, singing his classics for nearly an hour. He came, he said, to support both the cause and Sharon Osbourne, “She has so much information on me that I couldn’t say no,” he said, before adding, “I know this of her. She’s a fighter, a survivor, a crusader and a great mom.”
Sounding barely different from his 40-year old recordings, John sang “Tiny Dancer,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” “Rocket Man,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Your Song,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Circle of Life,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
He took a break between tunes to give a shout-out to Rod Stewart, seated with the Davis family.
John estimated his friendship with Stewart at nearly 44 years. “And we’re still around and at the top of our games,” he said. “We’ve had so many laughs together and so many great times and played so many pranks on each other… At the heart of it, we’re great mates. So, I love you, all right.”
Lynn Palmer co-chaired the auction, which by itself has raised more than $8 million over the years. Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Associated Television International and American Airlines sponsored the event.
Top photo: Sir Elton John gave a nearly hour-long concert at Race to Erase MS 2013 (photo: Michael Buckner/ Getty Images for Race to Erase MS)
Second photo: Taio Cruz had the audience sing along to “Dynamite” at the Race to Erase MS 2013 (photo: SocietyNewsLA.com)
Third photo: From left, honorees Sharon Osbourne and Jack Osbourne, gala chair Nancy Davis and presenter Kelly Osbourne at the Race To Erase MS 2013 (photo: Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images for Race To Erase MS)
Fourth photo: Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Hilfiger mingled alongside party-goers perusing the silent auction items (photo: SocietyNewsLA.com)
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Race to Erase MS 2013
Published May 5, 2013 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA