NEW YORK — In the eye of this season’s product launch storm, several beauty companies took a pause to host gala events that raised awareness and funds, millions in fact, to help stamp out life-threatening diseases affecting their core customers — women.

AVON’s KISS GOODBYE TO BREAST CANCER: Songbirds Harry Connick Jr. and Vanessa Carlton lent their voices to Avon’s fourth annual Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer Awards Celebration. Both Connick, who lost his mother to cancer, and Carlton performed at the event held Monday evening at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s new home, Frederick P. Rose Hall. Avon Products Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Andrea Jung and Avon Foundation president Kathleen Walas co-hosted the event and presented awards to four people who have worked to fight against the disease. Dr. Jonathan W. Simons, director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, received the Medical Achievement Award for his work as an investigator into translational cancer research. “Today Show” news anchor and NBC news correspondent Ann Curry, who has made personal and professional contributions to the cause, was presented with the Media Leadership Award. Upon accepting her award, Curry told the audience that she and her daughter are growing their hair so it can be donated to an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients. Paul Boulanger, president and founder of the Boston-based Men With Heart — one of the first men’s groups dedicated to fighting breast cancer, was selected for the Community Advocate Award. Dottie Randall, a seven-year breast cancer survivor and Avon leadership sales representative actively involved in raising awareness and funds, was awarded the Pink Ribbon Crusader Award. The evening brought in $2.2 million for the cause. To date, Avon has raised and donated more than $350 million toward breast cancer treatment and research.

LEGENDS GALA: L’Oréal Paris and The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund marked OCRF’s 10th anniversary with a black-tie fund-raising gala. Held Nov. 4 at the Metropolitan Pavilion & Altman Building, the evening raised $4.3 million. More than 1,300 guests from the beauty, fashion and media industries were in attendance including Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, Peter Boyle and L’Oréal spokesperson Milla Jovovich. A live auction, hosted by comedian and “The View” co-host Joy Behar, raised $150,000 of the total with items such as a private recording session with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs going to Donna Karan for $55,000. L’Oréal Paris and OCRF honored three individuals who have championed the drive for a cure. Hearst Magazines president Cathleen P. Black and Federated Department Stores chairman, president and ceo Terry Lundgren were each presented with the 2004 OCRF Legends Award. Trudie Styler was selected for the second annual Liz Tilberis Humanitarian Award because of her commitment to the environment and human rights. To date, L’Oréal’s efforts have generated more than $8 million for OCRF, a not-for-profit organization. — M.P.

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