It was the first wintry evening in November, but the mood was warm and the crowd extraordinarily generous at the Child Mind Institute’s seventh annual Child Advocacy Award Dinner at Cipriani 42 Street Monday night.
The evening raised $7 million — including almost $1 million from supporters who held up their auction paddles for amounts from $100,000 to $1,000.
The event honored philanthropists Nancy and Fred Poses with the Child Advocacy Award for their longtime commitment to children and families, including the creation of Understood.org, a comprehensive online resource for parents of children with learning and attention issues. Nancy Poses spoke emotionally about the couple’s struggles, decades ago, to find the right help for a young son who had learning challenges, and their desire to make the journey easier for other families. The couple later set a high bar for the auction — and spurred guests to record giving — by raising their paddle for the first $100,000 gift and offering to match the next $500,000 pledged.
Kenneth A. Dodge, PhD, the William McDougall Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, was presented with the 2017 Child Mind Institute Distinguished Scientist Award in honor of his trailblazing research and community prevention programs for aggressive behaviors.
The event was hosted by the gracious broadcasting couple of Al Roker and Deborah Roberts. Like many in the room, they acknowledged knowing first hand how important the kind of expertise and help offered at the Child Mind Institute can be. “We stand here tonight not just as parents, but as soldiers in the fight to recognize and invest in good mental health care for all children,” Roberts said.
As always, one of the evening’s highlights came courtesy of children who have worked with the Child Mind Institute to overcome mental health disorders. This year the show stealers were 10-year-old twins Ella and Olivia, who told the story of their severe OCD, which progressed from having to do and say everything at the same time to violent outbursts. After treatment, they’re back to what they called their “normal” lives, and to being each other’s best friend.
When things were at their worst, Ella said, their parents felt that “their girls weren’t their girls anymore.” Olivia added, “And now we’re their girls again!”
Child Mind Institute Founding President Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, noted that after the very divisive recent elections, helping children is something we can all agree on.
“At the Child Mind Institute, we have the privilege and the honor to help children and families who have inspirational courage — to act through the fear and the stigma,” he said. “We want every family to have access to the most effective treatment and to the understanding that breaks through barriers and brings hope.”
The Child Advocacy Award Dinner concluded with the lively auction led by Lydia Fenet of Christie’s, which raised funds for the Child Mind Institute’s financial aid program.
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