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Newark mayor Cory Booker is feeling a lot of pressure these days. Not only is he under fire for cutting 13 percent of his beleaguered city’s police force, but he had to try and keep up with past keynote speakers such as Presidents Obama and Clinton at the annual K.I.D.S. dinner.

Well, Booker definitely held his own at the event at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan Wednesday night, regaling the overflow crowd with a story about an unforgettable visit he made to Notre Dame as a 17-year-old high school senior and “the most overrated football player,” trying to make a decision on where to go to college. His mind was made up from the second he met legendary coach Lou Holtz, toured the locker room and set foot on the field. But his parents had other ideas, insisting he attend Stanford, where he would receive a full scholarship.

This story first appeared in the December 3, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Booker helped the Stanford football team beat Notre Dame in a game in his senior year, a “miracle” win that was only possible because the Stanford team acted as one, “e pluribus unum.” He drew parallels to the K.I.D.S. (Kids in Distressed Situations) mission, which draws people together to help children in need.

The charity was celebrating its 25th anniversary at the event, which honored Oscar Feldenkreis of Perry Ellis, John Goodman of Sears and Wayne Elsey of Soles4Souls. Since its founding, K.I.D.S. has provided $1 billion in new, donated product to 65 million families in distress. Last year alone, the group distributed $90 million in apparel, toys, books and other products to 4.5 million families. The goal is to increase that number to 4.7 million children this year, according to Janice Weinman, president of K.I.D.S.

Another touching moment at the event was when publicist Karen Bromley, who was instrumental in the creation of K.I.D.S., was honored with the group’s special service award for her 25 years of uninterrupted work on behalf of the charity. Bromley, whom Weinman called the “heart and heroine” of the organization, revealed she was a “product of the foster care system” and adopted at the age of 10. And it was her early childhood trials that sparked her interest in helping children.

The event raised $1 million for the charity and was hosted by Gayle King, editor at large for O, The Oprah Magazine.

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