David Letterman, Denis Leary and John Fogerty — oh my! In a glammed up ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria New York, these talented headliners and 1,000 supporters of the Foundation gathered on Saturday, November 14 for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s, MJFF’s annual benefit gala.
Raising more than $5 million for Parkinson’s research, guests of the gala were treated to a Marty McFly-themed opening number from host Denis Leary and comedic performances from Lenny Clarke, Jeff Ross and Larry Wilmore. Adding to the night’s impressive line-up, musical guest John Fogerty brought the house to their feet dancing and singing to classic rock songs including “Fortunate Son” and “Proud Mary.”
During a particular hilarious and touching moment, special bearded guest David Letterman joked about coming out from retirement to introduce Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan to the stage. David spoke fondly of Michael and his ability to balance the demands of his career with his Parkinson’s diagnosis, “To go out in front of a crowd of strangers without Parkinson’s disease takes gut. You do it with that diagnosis, that’s courage beyond human limits.”
Many long-time advocates of the Foundation and regular Funny Thing attendees also came out to show their support including MJFF Board member George Stephanopoulos and his wife Ali Wentworth as well as Julianna Margulies, John McEnroe, Katie Couric and Rachael Ray.
As in years prior, the Foundation’s Board of Directors cover all costs associated with the event so that every penny of the five million raised will go directly to fund promising research. To date, Funny Thing has raised more than $65 million to speed a cure for Parkinson’s.