Last Tuesday night at the Plaza Hotel, an impressive array of advocates for the rights of children in foster care gathered to support Children's Rights, a national watchdog advocating on behalf of abused and neglected children. With rousing speeches by Governor Jon Corzine and rapper Run DMC followed by an auction led by feisty Sotheby's auctioneer Hugh Hildesley, the event raised over $450,000 for Children's Rights.
Governor Corzine started off the evening by recounting the trajectory of welfare for foster children during his tenure as governor of New Jersey, pointing out that the crisis he inherited that had been rectified by passionate advocates, spearheaded by Children's Rights, by the end of his tenure.
The real highlight, however, came from Daryl "Run" DMC (whose music I was previously uninitiated in, but whom I can conclusively say manages to make a song called "My Adidas" really work). Decked out in black jeans and a "We are One" t-shirt, Run DMC took to the stage to tell his story. Finding out he had grown up in foster care after he had racked up all of his achievements- being the first rap group on MTV, the first to sell a million records, and the first to grace the cover of Rolling Stone- he launched a simultaneous second career that clearly holds great meaning to him, that of a champion for children in foster care. Of many endeavors, one of the most poignant is Camp Felix, which provides a place for foster children to go in the summer where they can enjoy the same sort of support he enjoyed as a child, that launched him to such great success.
The Plaza was sparkling per usual as the guests listened to governor Corzine and Run DMC. In attendance were a smattering of conscientious young professionals, industry veterans, and luminaries, including designer Cathy Hardwick, Louise Hirschfeld, perennial Corzine interior decorator Marshall Watson, philanthropist Lewis Cullman, and the lovely Alex Kuczynski.
Perhaps the best reminder of the night was the fact that together, it is possible for non-profits, celebrities, the social world and government to affect real change. As Governor Corzine, Run DMC and the crowd in attendance demonstrated, people from every walk of life care and are affected by the child welfare system. Children's Rights is a fabulous organization that not only makes parties at the Plaza possible, but whose mission also facilitated the growth of some of the greatest talent in the room.