While the country may not look too favorably on Wall Street these last few years, the supporters of the Muscular Dystrophy Association are trying to reverse that negative view. The Wings Over Wall Street cocktail reception was started 12 years by Warren Schiffer, whose wife, Toni Diamond, suffers from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Funds raised throughout the night were donated to the MDA specifically for ALS research.
Schiffer and Diamond joined with another ALS patient, Michael Beier, who brought awareness to the Wall Street community and they rallied to raise money for ALS research. Unfortunately, Beier and Diamond have since passed away but Nicole Dupuis, Associate Director of Business Development, said “we continue to fight on their behalf with a strong committee, strong MDA staff and our founder, Warren Schiffer.”
To put together such a large and important event, takes a lot of hard work and the help of sponsors. Dupuis explained that different companies can sponsor at different sponsorship levels. Some of the largest sponsors this year were “Bloomberg, Weeden & Co. and Etro, Bloomberg being our Guardian Angel Sponsor,” Dupuis said. The goal of this year’s cocktail reception was $10 million, and the night only felt a little short. But money isn’t everything. The number one goal of the organization, Dupuis said, “has always been to find a cure.”
Building Awareness, Bringing People Together
The other goals of these events, according to Dupuis, “are always to a) bring awareness of muscular dystrophy and how devastating it can be to individuals and their families, and b) bring people together. Whether it is people from different aspects of the financial sector or a CEO of a major company that sponsors us with one of the families that we serve. We want everyone to connect, learn from each other, feel that they are not alone in the fight and also see what an impact they are making.”
When planning an event of this magnitude, you have to use a wide scope. Dupuis explained, “We had email blasts to our database go out to anybody who has attended one of MDA’s social events in the past, along with those family and friends of MDA. We used twitter and Facebook to promote the event as well as word of mouth (many of our committee members are well respected in their communities and places of business, so they were able to spread the word). We also had a local segment on MDA’s Show of Strength this year where Warren Schiffer, our founder and Larry Schiffer, a committee member and Warren’s brother spoke about the impact Wings Over Wall Street has had.” Dupuis said, “this event took a lot of planning—a lot of moving parts. The experience was an incredible learning experience. My advice would be to have excellent time management.”
While it’s easy to lose focus once the event you spend so time planning is over, Dupuis offers some sound advice on the importance of follow up. “My number one priority (after raising money) was making sure I responded to all emails, got anyone involved anything they needed, returned voicemails and kept in touch with all members of my committee. I am there to help and they need to know that,” she said.
For the guests of the cocktail evening, the highlight was “the tribute video to Robert Amaro, our spirit award recipient who passed away about two weeks prior to the event. Though it was truly heartbreaking, it brought this disease that we talk about all the time down to reality. Here was someone who was working with us for this event and now he is no longer here with us. That is impactful!” Dupuis said.