Friday, Apr. 27, 2012

A Fashionable Fête for Bone Marrow Research

Tears flowed as freely as the champagne at the sixth annual DKMS Linked Against Blood Cancer gala, held Thursday night at New York's Cipriani restaurant. Underneath a massive gold chandelier in the cavernous room, model Hilary Rhoda glittered in a stunning white column gown, while Derek Lam chatted amiably with the crowd. The Wall Street hotspot attracted plenty of boldfaced names, such as actress Dakota Fanning, musician Solange Knowles and Vogue editor Lauren Santo Domingo, as well as DKMS honoree Heidi Klum. Fellow model Coco Rocha said, "There's so many amazing charities that everyone can be part of," but nights like this seem to crystallize star power around a single cause.

It was the sixth year that the nonprofit organization DKMS, the world's largest bone marrow donor center, has sponsored the gala to raise awareness about blood cancer and to encourage people to donate bone marrow. Socialites and philanthropists mingled, made charitable contributions and scooped up swab kits to join the bone marrow registry. The emotional highlight of the evening came when a six-year-old survivor of blood cancer and transplant recipient met his donor for the first time; even tuxedo-clad men could be seen dabbing their eyes.

Rapper Nelly has forged a personal connection to the cause after his sister passed away from leukemia in 2005, telling TIME, "Anytime I get to come out on nights like tonight, show up and show support, it's a beautiful thing." After guests nibbled on caprese salad, Heidi Klum took to the stage in a silver sequined dress to accept her DKMS award, imploring the crowd to remember the lessons of the evening: "Tell people about it. Maybe you can save a little boy or girl's life."