by William Buckley

While all that separated Trump, Cruz and Kasich from Karen Murray and the Heartworks Gala last night was 42nd Street, the latter event, which raises money for the Marfan Foundation was, in Murray’s own words, “The most spectacular and most emotional event we have ever had.”

While protesters rallied outside the pre-primary “New York State Republican Gala,” where the three GOP presidential hopefuls each recited carefully plotted pitches about their own “shining” relationship with New York City, all that bombastic pomp was in stark contrast to the genuine heart and humanity across the street.

The Heartworks Gala, which took place at the ever-impressive Cipriani’s, honored the legacy of Jonathan Larson, the award-winning playwright of Rent, who died from an aortic dissection believed to have been caused by Marfan syndrome, and the Weill Cornell Cardiac Care Team – Drs. Richard Devereux, Leonard Girardi, and Mary Roman – who provide outstanding patient care and conduct research on Marfan syndrome and related disorders.

There were performances by three original cast members from Rent: Daphne Rubin-Vega, who portrayed “Mimi;” Fredi Walker-Browne, the original “Joanne;” and Timothy Britten Parker, who played “Gordon.” More than two dozen other cast members from the past 20 years of Rent performances joined them for an emotional performance of Seasons of Love, as Larson’s father, Al, and sister, Julie, looked on.

“We are so grateful to our friends and colleagues who joined us to pay tribute to our honorees and to support our life-saving programs and services that make life better for people living with Marfan syndrome and related disorders,” said Karen Murray, President, VF Sportswear, Chair of the Board of The Marfan Foundation and corporate host of Heartworks. “It was also so meaningful to see so many people from our patient community in the room – from nearby and from as far away as Alaska.”

The event, which was emceed by actress and comedian Julie Halston, included a silent auction and a live auction that raised over $1.2 million for the Marfan Foundation.

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