A wonderful family from Brooklyn opened the Child Mind Institute’s fourth annual Child Advocacy Award Dinner last night, including a lovely 6-year-old named Kailee who, until a couple of months ago, didn’t speak and didn’t smile outside her home. Kailee had remained anxious and silent through two years of preschool, and speech therapy didn’t help. It was Dr. Steven Kurtz at the Child Mind Institute who diagnosed her selective mutism, and our Brave Buddies program that helped Kailee find her voice—a voice the audience of 800 was delighted to hear, loud and clear.

Talk show host Meredith Vieira was the host for the evening, which honored Ram Sundaram, partner at Goldman Sachs, with the Child Advocacy Award, and Dr. Pasko Rakic, director of Yale’s Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, with the 2014 Distinguished Scientist Award.

Dr. Harold Koplewicz, the Child Mind Institute’s president and cofounder, noted that many of the families who come to the Child Mind Institute have “gone from clinic to clinic, from doctor to doctor, from medication to medication,” without getting an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. That’s why he emphasized the importance of investing in the science of brain development, specifically the Healthy Brain Network-the Child Mind Institute’s initiative in large-scale collection and global sharing of brain imaging and other data from children.

Sundaram, too, stressed the importance of scientific initiatives like the Healthy Brain Network to improve on current diagnosis and treatment. And he closed with a plea for a united front to fight for the kind of national and international attention that mental illness deserves, and funding for research that would reflect the seriousness of mental illness and the toll it takes on children and families.

The evening at Cipriani 42nd Street raised $6.65 million dollars, including $850,000 at a live auction presided over by weather guru Al Roker.