By and  on April 30, 2010

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation marked its 16th anniversary Tuesday evening with a sweet 16 theme for its annual fund-raising gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Founder Evelyn Lauder, senior corporate vice president of the Estée Lauder Cos., set the tone by introducing herself as the chaperone of the event.

“I want to blow out that candle on the cupcake,” she proclaimed. “I want to extinguish breast cancer for once and for all.”

But the evening — and the day — belonged to Sir Elton John, the perennial music director of the event. Lauder and a parade of others showered accolades on the entertainer for his contributions in supporting the event for the last 10 years. The climax came when Bette Midler made a surprise appearance onstage to deliver a proclamation issued by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and declaring Sir Elton John Day in New York City.

Midler declared, “Elton loves New York and New York loves him right back.” She went on to note that the knighted crooner has played Madison Square Garden 160 times, putting him in a league with Walt Frazier and Marc Messier. “This guy is the real deal,” Midler continued. “He is a mensch, a big soul.”

The bountiful praise had a marked effect on Sir Elton. He sat down at the piano and gave a high-spirited performance of a dozen or so of his greatest hits. He periodically leapt to the edge of the stage, took a bow while brandishing a big grin, only to return to the keyboard to tear into another well-known number.

“I’ve been invited for 10 years and I’ll be here as long as they want me to be here,” he said.

Early in the program, Myra Biblowit, president of the BCRF, announced that more than $270 million has been raised to date, supporting 173 researchers in 12 countries. The program ended with Lauder telling the crowd that, thanks to a couple of anonymous donors, the evening achieved its goal of raising $4 million.

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