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Children’s Tumor Foundation Hosts Annual Gala, “Imagine a World Without NF,” to Support Rare Genetic Disorder

With Master of Ceremonies Paula Faris, Co-Host of ABC’s The View,
and actor Jonathan Sadowski as auctioneer

Honorees include Bill Lerner, Dr. Brigitte C. Widemann, and Sarah Rodbell

NEW YORK – On Wednesday, October 19, 2016, leading New York business leaders, together with friends, families and fundraisers, will gather at Current on Pier 59 for the annual Children’s Tumor Foundation New York Gala. This year’s theme asks everyone to “Imagine a World Without NF.” Funds raised will support research into neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and affects 1 in 3,000 births. There is currently no cure.

An evening of inspiration and celebration, the Foundation will present its highest honor, the Children’s Humanitarian Award. This award was established in 2006 to acknowledge individuals who demonstrate a commitment to having a positive impact on the lives of children and adults living with neurofibromatosis and share the Foundation’s mission of funding the best NF research. This year, the Children’s Humanitarian Award will be given to Bill Lerner, entrepreneur and philanthropist, and Brigitte C. Widemann, MD, Pediatric Oncology Acting Chief at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As President and CEO of iPark, Bill Lerner has overseen the company’s growth from a small family business to one of the New York metropolitan area’s largest owner-operators of garages and parking facilities. It was his desire to help others that led him to found his own charity, Billy4Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children in need by providing them with one essential item: shoes. Billy4Kids has operated in Haiti and is expanding to Brazil and Ghana.

In addition to his own philanthropic organization, Bill Lerner is also a remarkable supporter of the Children’s Tumor Foundation and our mission to end neurofibromatosis. From his yearly participation at the NY Gala to being the lead sponsor in the NY Poker event and his contributions to the NF Endurance team, Bill Lerner leads by example through his actions, and exemplifies the qualities and the leadership deserving of tonight’s honor.

Brigitte C. Widemann will be recognized for her contributions in clinical patient care and her commitment to supporting NF patients and their families. A founding member of REiNS (the Response Evaluation in Neurofibromatosis and Schwannomatosis), a collaborative committed to achieving consensus within the NF community regarding the design of clinical trials for treatments of all NF manifestations, Dr. Widemann has been an international leader in the research and development of cutting-edge clinical trials for neurofibromatosis.

One of Dr. Widemann’s most recent achievements was announced at the 2015 Children’s Tumor Foundation NF Conference, where she reported that data in a phase I trial for children and young adults showed a decrease in tumor volume. Based on these promising results, phase II was developed and completed enrollment in record time – within one year. Today, the MEK Inhibitor study continues to give NF1 patients and their families’ tremendous hope in the development of effective medical therapies for NF1-related plexiform neurofibromas.

Sarah Rodbell will be honored as the 2017 Children’s Tumor Foundation Ambassador, an award bestowed upon an individual with NF to recognize their courage living the disorder, and their personal efforts to further the Foundation goals of research, public awareness and patient support.

Sarah Rodbell was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1 when she was 10 years old after her mom discovered a bump while brushing her hair. Later, after a biopsy, they found out it was a cancerous tumor. Thankfully after two surgeries she has been cancer free since 2009.

Sarah started fundraising for CTF when she was 11 years old and hasn’t stopped. Most recently, Sarah helped organize the NYC NF Walk, held a bake sale at her school and this past August, fundraised for her uncle when he participating in the IRONMAN Mont Tremblant on behalf of the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Sarah pushes herself every day and tries to make each day memorable.

“Every year at this time, we gather to reflect on the progress made in NF research, measure what else needs to done, and look ahead to the day when we meet our goal of ending NF,” said Annette Bakker, PhD, Children’s Tumor Foundation President and Chief Scientific Officer. “Tonight’s theme, ‘Imagine a World Without NF,’ is an homage to the immense generosity of Bill Lerner, the innovative work of Dr. Brigitte Widemann, and the hopes and dreams of Sarah Rodbell, this year’s NF Ambassador, who, like all our NF Heroes, inspires us in our mission.”

ABC’s “The View” co-host Paula Faris will serve as master of ceremonies of the Gala event. Jonathan Sadowski of Freeform’s “Young & Hungry” will serve as auctioneer.

For more information about The New York Gala and the Children’s Tumor Foundation, please visit


About Children’s Tumor Foundation
The Children’s Tumor Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding effective treatments for the millions of people worldwide living with neurofibromatosis (NF), a term for three distinct disorders: NF1, NF2, and schwannomatosis. NF causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and may lead to blindness, deafness, bone abnormalities, disfigurement, learning disabilities, disabling pain, and cancer. NF affects one in every 3,000 people, more than cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and Huntington’s disease combined. The Children’s Tumor Foundation funds critical research into neurofibromatosis. In addition to benefiting those who live with NF, this research is shedding new light on several forms of cancer, brain tumors, bone abnormalities, and learning disabilities, ultimately benefiting the broader community. For more information, please visit


Simon Vukelj, VP, Communications,
Rebecca Harris, Public Relations Manager,