Last night was a pretty amazing one for the Child Mind Institute. Several hundred friends and supporters gathered to celebrate the fantastic strides kids with psychiatric and learning disorders can make when they get the right treatment, and to raise more than $5 million to help more kids get the attention they need.
Matt Lauer, the evening’s host, eloquently sang the praises of the evening’s honorees, Jane and Jimmy Buffett, but happily he left the singing itself to Jimmy who rocked the house with “Song for the Little Children” and “Volcano.” In a video message Amy Poehler and Will Arnett toasted the Buffetts, who were receiving the Child Advocacy Award, saying they’d personally give them an award for “the best fake Southern accents for real New Yorkers, the best collection of flip flops for a CEO,” and for being “the coolest rich people on the planet.” Getting slightly more serious, they noted that “wealth is measured by kindness and generosity,” and on that score the Buffetts richly deserve the evening’s honor.
For his part, Jimmy noted that the crowd at Cipriani was a little overdressed for one of his concerts, but if the night could be summed up by one moment, it was hundreds of people waving glow sticks to Jimmy’s music, all rallied to a common cause.
The evening segued from mellow to moving as we watched a terrific video of parents and children talking about how their lives were turned around when they got treatment for psychiatric and learning disorders.
Eric Kandel, the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, was awarded the Child Mind Institute Distinguished Scientist Award for his life’s work in the biological, chemical, and physiological bases of brain functions like learning and memory. Dr. Kandel spoke memorably about the amazing plasticity of a child’s brain: “One can think of no greater wonder in nature than the mind of a child. It’s a creativity machine. It’s a learning machine. It’s absolutely extraordinary what the mind of a child takes in and how plastic it is.” Because so many psychiatric illnesses start in childhood, he concluded, “research in mental health of children is one of the most important tasks facing society.”