More than 600 people turned out tonight for the Lupus Foundation of America’s (LFA) National Butterfly Gala, which recognized Ted Turner, Chairman, Turner Enterprises, Inc., Senator, Daniel K. Inouye (HI), Human Genome Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline for their contributions to advancing the science and medicine of lupus, and supporting the millions of people around the world affected by lupus.
During the Butterfly Gala, the LFA and singer/songwriter Julian Lennon announced the establishment of The Lucy Vodden Research Grant Award. The research initiative is named after Lucy Vodden, Julian’s childhood friend who lost her battle with lupus in September of 2009 at the age of 46. Lucy was the subject of a drawing that Julian created which inspired his father to write the classic Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
Dr. Gary Gilkeson, Medical University of South Carolina and Chair, LFA’s Medical-Scientific Advisory Council, and Julian Lennon presented the award to Lucy Vodden’s husband, Ross Vodden, and her sister, Fran O’Donnell.
Throughout the evening, the LFA recognized each of the honorees for their unique contributions to overcoming this serious and life-threatening illness. Larry King, host of CNN’s Larry King Live, delivered a special congratulatory video message to honoree Ted Turner, who received The Cooper Family Foundation Leadership Award for his long-standing interest in and support of lupus research, and lifetime of philanthropic works.
Senator Daniel K. Inouye (HI), Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, received the National Leadership in Biomedical Research Award for his leadership in advancing federal research at the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and other federal institutions, for better treatments and a cure for lupus.
Human Genome Sciences (HGS) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) were recognized with the Corporate Leadership in Lupus Award for their commitment to and innovation in lupus research, resulting in two positive phase III clinical trials for a potential new lupus treatment. H. Thomas Watkins, President and Chief Executive Officer, HGS, and Peter Hare, Vice President, Immunology Business Unit, GSK, accepted the awards on behalf of the companies.
“On behalf of the LFA, I would like to congratulate all of our honorees,” said Sandra C. Raymond, President and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America. “I know each of the honorees will continue to bring national attention and resources to lupus and play a significant role in helping us to usher in a new era in lupus, as we build upon the recent progress we’ve seen over the past year.”
Julian Lennon and singer/songwriter James Scott Cook also treated the crowd to a special performance of the tribute song “Lucy.” Last year, Julian Lennon and James Scott Cook released the song “Lucy” in honor of LucyVodden. Proceeds from the song “Lucy” will support The Lucy Vodden Research Grant Award. The grant will fund lupus research through the LFA’s National Research Program, Bringing Down the Barriers, which is part of the LFA’s ongoing commitment to advancing the science and medicine of lupus and finding a cure.
CNN Anchor and Special Correspondent Soledad O’Brien served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Other notable guests and presenters included Congressman James P. Moran (D-VA, 8th); LFA Board member Dr. Annette Shelby; Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD, 8th); Elliott Sigal, M.D. Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer and President, Research & Development, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Carol Ann Petren, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, CIGNA Corporation and LFA Board member; Kalenna of the musical group DirtyMoney; and LFA National Spokespersons Mercedes Yvette, Tomiko Fraser Hines, and Kelly Jean Drury.