Kevin Gillespie and Jack Hendler. Photo by Howard Wechsler

“The best speeches are the short ones,” said Kevin Gillespie, executive vice president and division manager at Wells Fargo Capital Finance, who was honored at The Needlers Foundation annual gala fund-raiser Tuesday night at the Empire Steak House on East 50th Street in Manhattan.

Gillespie certainly did keep his remarks tight but the message to The Needlers, a 54-year-old philanthropic organization of bankers, accountants, factors and lawyers involved in the garment industry, was heartfelt. “When I think about The Needlers, I think about the word community — we are a community. We are all tied to the garment industry,” Gillespie said.

They also tied together in their charitable efforts, with $250,000 raised on the evening for children’s causes. About half the proceeds have been earmarked to help children undergoing pediatric neurological surgery and specifically the work of two renowned doctors, Alejandro Berenstein, clinical professor and director of the pediatric cerebrovascular program at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Rick Abbott, director of surgical neuro-oncology at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center and professor of clinical neurological surgery and pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Marie Jose Berenstein, Dr. Alejandro Berenstein, Jovanna and Tom Filardo, Douglas Taliaferro and Dr. Rick Abbott. Photo by Howard Wechsler 

“These doctors donate their time and we support their hospitals,” explained Jack Hendler, chief executive officer of the Avalon Net Worth Group and president of The Needlers Foundation.

Berenstein praised “the unbelievable work” of The Needlers and Abbott demonstrated some augmented reality technology under development to underscore how donations not only help children and the hospitals, but also augment research activities.

“These doctors are selfless humanitarians,” said Douglas Taliaferro, executive vice president of The Needlers and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo. “They figure stuff out and don’t get patents on them. They help children overcome horrific neurological diseases.”

The Needlers next big benefit will be Sept. 6 at the Seawane Country Club in Hewlett Harbor, Long Island, where Cassie Rosenthal, senior vice president of Rosenthal & Rosenthal, will be honored.

The Gillespie family: Margo and Kevin with sons Kevin and Holden; Peter Puglisee. Photo by Howard Wechsler 

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