Despite a star-studded red carpet and a stirring performance by Jon Bon Jovi, one of the most moving moments of the DKMS fourth Annual Gala: Linked Against Leukemia event came when a grateful mother of identical twin boys met the bone marrow donor who saved her children with a transplant matched by DKMS.
This story first appeared in the May 7, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“How do you say thank you for saving two people’s lives?” asked a choked-up Carrie Denke as she hugged Monika Rasche, the German woman who saved her three-year-old twin sons’ lives. Twins Keane and Ethan Denke — romping around the stage and eating M&M’s at the gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 29 — had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2007, at just four months of age. Xander Denke, Carrie’s husband and the boys’ father, was similarly moved, thanking Rasche over and over for the “lifesaving gift which saved our boys.”
“When I met Xander and Carrie Denke during the twins’ donor search, I was blown away by their determination and strong will,” said Bernd Beetz, Coty Inc.’s chief executive officer. “Three years later, Coty is honored to stand beside two very healthy boys and their proud parents as they meet the woman who saved Keane and Ethan. This is the reason we are committed to DKMS, saving lives one donor at a time.”
Coty and DKMS together raised $1.7 million for the cause at the gala, much of which will be devoted to registering more than 19,000 additional bone marrow donors. Beetz and Halle Berry presented Antonio “L.A.” Reid, chairman of Island Def Jam, with the DKMS Linked Against Leukemia Award in honor of his work in fighting cancer. The evening was emceed by Shaun Robinson of Access Hollywood.
The organization was founded by Peter Harf, chairman of Coty Inc., and his daughter Katharina, executive vice president of DKMS Americas, after Peter’s first wife and Katharina’s mother died of leukemia. Katharina, just 14 when her mother passed away in 1991, noted that with just 3,000 potential donors on the list in 1991, finding a compatible match was impossible. “I have since made it my goal to continue my mother’s legacy by helping other leukemia patients so that no family has to go through the same pain we did.” Coty has partnered with the organization since October 2006.