The luncheon circuit is thriving. Case in point: On Wednesday afternoon, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center headed back to the Rainbow Room for its sixth annual winter luncheon, its most successful one yet.
“We sold out before we even mailed an invitation,” said society president Jamee Gregory.
The event raises critical support for the center, and this year was benefiting the Precision Cell and Gene-Therapy Program in Pediatrics, lead by Dr. JJ Boelens, who recently relocated from the Netherlands for the position. As the main course was being served, the doctor took the stage to shed light on his work in developing customized cancer treatment for children.
“I’m actually a former patient; I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer when I was 31, so I actually joined the associates committee about five years ago or so. I always knew I wanted to give back. I was so lucky to have this amazing treatment and care,” said Virginia Tomenson. “I found the society and knew it was an amazing opportunity to give back. I can relate on the patient side, and help people better understand my experience.”
Each year, event sponsor Net-a-porter has hosted a shopping drive in support of the luncheon’s initiatives — and each year, the drive has raised more money than the year before.
“In addition to hopefully making our customers happy and delivering beautiful things to them on a daily business, on a parallel track it’s so important that we’re giving back to our local communities,” said Net-a-porter president and honorary event chair Alison Loehnis. “When we met the team from Society of MSK it was really such a perfect fit, we were in such admiration for what they were doing. This lunch is such a fantastic opportunity to help them raise funds and raise awareness.”
The timing is also particularly convenient, coinciding with the start of New York Fashion Week.
“It’ll start tonight for me with Tom Ford and then it will run for the next week, and then it’s back to London, and then we go from there,” said Loehnis, a New Yorker turned Londoner. “This is where it all starts: It all starts with product, amazing designers creating beautiful things.”
But first, lunch.
“It’s a very auspicious beginning — in the Rainbow Room on a sunny day,” she added.