“People come out for Michael. Whether or not they have a personal connection to Parkinson’s — when the phone rings and it’s Michael J. Fox, people say yes. And that’s the power of his personality,” said Willie Geist, Board member of The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) as he spoke on the red carpet of MJFF’s annual A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s. Geist continued, “We’re all lucky that he’s at the center of this cause.”
On Saturday, November 16, nearly 900 friends from across the country gathered at the Hilton New York to celebrate raising $4.6 million (and counting!) to help speed a cure. And as with every year, thanks to the MJFF Board of Directors, every penny of the millions raised will go directly to high-impact programs to bring an end to Parkinson's. To date, "Funny Thing" has raised an astounding $92 million in total.
Guests of #FoxGala had a night filled with laughs thanks to a comical opening number from host Denis Leary and standout, stand-up comedy from comedians Jordan Carlos, Joel McHale and Colin Quinn. Plus, nine-time GRAMMY awardee, Sheryl Crow, brought guests out of their seats and up on their feet with her legendary hits, including “Everyday Is a Winding Road,” and “All I Wanna Do.” And as a special treat that gave guests like STAT News Senior Writer Matt Herper nostalgia for “Back to the Future,” Michael J. Fox joined Sheryl on stage to perform Chuck Berry’s hit, “Rock and Roll Music.” Michael rocked out on a custom green guitar that will be signed by past “Funny Thing” performers and auctioned at next year’s event.
Longtime supporters of Michael and the Foundation came out for the evening including MJFF Board members Akbar Gbajabiamila and George Stephanopoulos, Katie Couric, Julianna Margulies, Julianne Moore, Richard Kind and Susie Essman. View the gallery below to get an exclusive look into the star-studded night. While on the red carpet, Katie spoke to her passion for Michael’s work with the Foundation:
"Michael is an amazing person and people want to show up for him. …Tonight, we want to collectively not only raise awareness, but raise money and recognize that people are living with this disease and to support them as well, including Michael himself."
MJFF Board member Ryan Reynolds also shared his admiration for Michael and Tracy as he introduced them to the stage. He noted how far the Foundation has come in scientific research and in community connections since his start on the Board in 2008.
Our Founder, Michael J. Fox, summed it up best with what this night means to him:
“It’s a celebration of people that have supported us. And a celebration of the year that we’ve had and the year ahead of us.”
And in case you missed it, Michael spoke with Access Daily for an exclusive interview about navigating Parkinson’s and the work of the Foundation. During the conversation, Michael discussed what the support means to him and what makes ‘Back to the Future’ timeless ahead of its upcoming 35th anniversary:
“What I love is that people empathize with what I’m doing, but they don’t feel bad for me, which I wouldn’t want them to, because I’ve got a wonderful life.”
Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox welcome the audience
Michael J. Fox and musical headliner Sheryl Crow pose backstage
MJFF Board member Ryan Reynolds poses with Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan
Comedian Jordan Carlos takes the stage
Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan pose with Funny Thing host Dennis Leary and comedian Colin Quinn
Michael J. Fox and musical headliner Sheryl Crow close out the evening