S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Gathers Manhattan’s Most Stylish to Raise Funds and Awareness for the Fight against Lupus

3rd Annual Handbag Auction and Luncheon Honors NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Designer Mary Norton

The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation drew more than 250 guests to its spirited New York Bag Ladies Luncheon and Handbag Auction at the stylish 583 Park Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Thursday. Many walked away with new designer arm candy while helping to raised $200,000 for research and support services for lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans.

Reknown opera soprano and Foundation board member Jessye Norman hosted the festive affair, which honored Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor of NBC News, and accessories designer Mary Norton, creator of the “MooRoo” evening bag line and “Frosting by Mary” for the Home Shopping Network.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Mary Norton 

Luncheon honorees Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Mary Norton; a Chanel "Madamoiselle" bag donated for the silent auction by Gossip Girl's Blake Lively.

“Diagnosing lupus is like hunting a panther in the dark,” said the statuesque Ms. Norton upon accepting the Foundation’s “Woman of Achievement” Award. “Now a wife and mother, Norton recalled years of struggling with such problems as depression, rosacea, and pregnancy loss before finally being diagnosed with lupus.

If you think you might have lupus, “take your pit bull friend—the one with the biggest mouth—to the doctor with you,” said Dr. Snyderman upon accepting her award. A powerful advocate for the health of women and girls, she movingly described the first young woman she ever diagnosed with lupus, a “textbook case” out of central casting. “This [cause] means the world to me.”

 

Luncheon host Jessye Norman with Foundation board member Bonnie Lautenberg; guests Margaret Cuomo Maier and Matilda Cuomo.

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The luncheon’s lively “silent” auction found bidders competing for bags donated by luxury brands such as Chanel, Burberry, Valentino, and Prada, as well as bags once owned by such celebrities as Liza Minnelli, Heidi Klum, Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively, Beyoncé, Courtney Cox—and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who contributed a golf bag.

All proceeds from the winning bids will support the lupus cause.

Luncheon co-chairs Betsey Selkowitz, a long-time Foundation board member and powerful supporter of the cause, and Elizabeth Schweitzer Miller, a buyer for Bloomingdale’s and the daughter of Foundation board member, Kate Kelly. Foundation Executive Director, Margaret Dowd, welcomed such guests as Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, who will be honored along with her husband, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), at the Foundation’s November 21, 2011 Gala.

 

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Founded in New York City in 1970, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is the only organization solely dedicated to providing education, social services, and research support for lupus in New York City. An under-publicized yet widespread and potentially life-threatening disease, lupus primarily targets women between the ages of 15 and 44, among whom it is a leading cause of premature heart attack, kidney disease, and stroke.

The luncheon is a lead-up to May’s Lupus Awareness Month activities in New York City, during which the Foundation will host several education and awareness events across the five boroughs, including a two-day stop at Grand Central Station.