In my philanthropy work, I focus my fundraising efforts on providing direct financial assistance to catastrophically injured members of the military (amputees) and their families.
The reason is that helping those who have sacrificed so much for us is fundamental. When a grievously injured soldier returns home without limbs or needs to undergo surgery to remove limbs damaged by an IED, that soldier needs his/her parents by their bedside for crucial support during the lengthy and grueling healing and recovery process. However, a soldier's family is often faced with an impossible choice to either suffer great financial strain to stay with their injured son or daughter at the hospital and risk losing their job and falling behind on their mortgage payment, or to go back to work and leave a suffering child alone in a naval hospital hundreds of miles away from home. It is unthinkable to me that a parent could be forced to leave his/her wounded child in order to pay bills. I try to ease this financial burden by directly assisting the families with monthly costs, such as utilities, car payments, and mortgages.
I have had the honor of visiting Walter Reed Naval Hospital on numerous occasions and meeting with these young heroes and their brave families. Being able to personally hand a worried father or mother a gift knowing it will alleviate their financial stress at home and allow them to stay in the hospital with their child where they belong has changed my life forever.
In order to raise these much needed funds, I host a private event twice a year with Jimmy Choo, once in the early spring at my New York City home and once in the summer at my Bridgehampton home. I also host a holiday shopping event in my NYC home in November with 15 vendors/designers who donate 20% to my charity and provide a 10% discount to shoppers. 100% of the funds that are raised are provided to the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, which in turn allows me to personally distribute those funds. My husband Howard and I match whatever monies are raised.
The CFRF was created on September 14, 2001 by my husband Howard Lutnick, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cantor Fitzgerald, in the wake of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks after Cantor Fitzgerald lost 658 of its 960 New York employees. The CFRF is run by my sister-in- law, Edie Lutnick. Cantor Fitzgerald and the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund has raised and distributed over $180 million and provided health care to the Cantor families who lost loved ones on September 11th.
Over the last five years, the Relief Fund has expanded its mission to include providing assistance to victims of natural disasters, terrorism, and children's causes, raising and distributing over $280 million to date. Most recently, Cantor Fitzgerald donated $10 million to 10,000 families within 19 schools in the most devastated areas of New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, and just under $1 million to victims of the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.