On Thursday evening, I attended the 28th Annual Gala for the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Fund. What an amazing event. Over the past twelve years I have been blessed to receive a yearly check from the Benefit Fund. On September 11 of this year I meet the chairman of the board of directors of the Benefit Fund when we were both invited to ring the bell at the NASDAQ. This year when invitation to attend the gala arrived I looked at it more closely and thought maybe I will go. While having lunch a few days after the invitation had arrived, two of my FDNY widow friends decided we would get “dressed up” and attend together. We figured we would have fun being together and really why would you turn down an invitation to dinner at the Waldorf! We decided we would rent a limo so we didn’t have to drive and to be honest attending a gala at the Waldorf Astoria sounded like something you should arrive in a limo for. We sounded like three teenage girls planning for the prom. 🙂
I decided my hair needed to be cut so I scheduled my appointment for the morning of the gala because my hair only looks really good right after my hairstylist has done it. I figured I probably should get my nails done as well. While I was at the salon getting my nails and hair done, my hairdresser commented “you should get your make up done, too” so I did. I was all “done up!”
The entire evening was lovely. There was a cocktail hour, dinner,a live auction to raise money for the fund and then an after party. When we arrived we checked in and were given a Swarovski crystal bracelet and our table number. We were seated with other beneficiaries. Our table was right down front behind the head tables. Mayor Michael Bloomberg set directly behind me. Rusty Staub was at the Mayor’s table. FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano was diagonally to my right. Mark Messier was one table away. There were probably many “movers and shakers” and dignitaries there but those are not the circles I travel in so I wasn’t aware. Plus my daughters say “I never know who anyone is” which is true. Before the event I was thinking that I might feel like Cinderella but to be honest I felt nothing but gratitude. I was grateful for good friends. I was grateful for such an amazing opportunity. I was grateful for a delicious meal. I was grateful for the generosity of people. I was grateful for the kindness of strangers. As we were transitioning into the after party, I made a point of thanking Mr. Staub for the invitation to attend the event as well as thanking him for the generosity of the Benefit Fund. He gave me a big hug.
During the after party, they had a raffle. My friends and I each bought $20 worth of raffle tickets and proceeded to put our tickets in the containers of the items we hoped to win. There was a “Blue Bloods” gift basket with autographed DVDs, an autographed photo of the cast, baseball hat, beach towel and t-shirt. I placed two of my raffle tickets in that container and shared with my friends a story about Blue Blood DVDs. Every year my daughters ask what I want for Christmas and my yearly response is “Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards men.” Last year when they asked I said “Blue Blood DVDs”. They responded “What no peace on earth, no goodwill towards men.” I chuckled and I said “yes I want that too”. Guess what, I won the Blue Bloods gift basket. I now own two sets of Blue Blood DVDs 🙂
FYI according to their Facebook page “Since the Benefit Fund’s inception in 1985 by Daniel J. “Rusty” Staub, the Benefit Fund has distributed over $123 million to the families of New York City police and fire personnel who have been killed in the line of duty. Though the Benefit Fund was initially created to assist families of New York City Fire Fighters and Police Officers, we now include the families of Emergency Medical Services and Port Authority Officers as well. In 1987 we provided 320 families with annual financial assistance and by 2010, we made the same commitment to nearly 700 families. Our need has certainly grown, but our mission remains pure: help children and spouses who lost a loved one in the line of duty, charged with the task of keeping our families safe.”