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Black Tie International:  First Candle Charity Gala


First Candle Charity Gala 2009 - Helping Babies Survive and Thrive

First Candle Charity Gala 2009 - Helping Babies Survive and Thrive
Tribecca Rooftop, New York City, October 22, 2009. 
Photo by:  Shira Agnon Hargrave

First Candle Charity Gala 2009
Helping Babies Survive and Thrive

October 22, 2009

Westchester Resident Emma Byrne Rooney Chairs New York City Gala Charity Gala 2009 to Help Save Babies' Lives First Candle, a leading national nonprofit dedicated to safe pregnancies and the survival of babies during the first years of life, today announced plans for its annual premier fundraising event Charity Gala 2009. Being held at Tribeca Rooftop beginning at 7:00 p.m. on October 22, the event brings together individuals, companies and business leaders interested in the health and well-being of our nation's most precious citizens . . . our children, our future. Emma Byrne Rooney, daughter-in-law of Dan Rooney (owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ambassador to Ireland) is the chair of this year's event. Guests will enjoy cocktails, dinner and dancing, as well as a live and silent auction.

Proceeds will be used to support research, education and family support services nationwide. The gala was founded by another Westchester resident, Esmeralda Williamson Noble. "Since the death of my daughter Fiona in 2004, there is nothing I am more passionate about than helping ensure that every baby is given the best possible chance to reach not only his or her first birthday, but many happy birthdays beyond," said Byrne-Rooney. "I am honored to serve as chair of this important event, supporting First Candle's vision of a future where all babies survive and thrive." According to the most recent statistics available, the United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.

More than 26,000 American babies never reach their first birthday. Among these, the leading cause of death is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In addition, more than 26,000 babies are stillborn each year, dying before ever taking their first breath. "First Candle is committed to doing all we can to prevent as many of these deaths as possible," said Marian Sokol, president of First Candle. "We applaud Emma for her courage in dedicating her time and energy to raise funds so that other babies might live. It is with increased awareness and funding that we stand to gain the most in our fight against stillbirth, SIDS and other sudden, unexpected infant deaths (SUID)." This year's Gala will honor several individuals whose dedication has gone above and beyond in supporting First Candle's important mission: Ms. Patty Stonesifer, former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and current senior advisor to trustees Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, for her belief that every baby should have a safe place to sleep. Mr. Jeffrey R. Lewis, President and COO of the Heinz Family Philanthropies and chief of staff for Teresa Heinz Kerry, for his support of First Candle's Kicks Count! Campaign. Print materials and radio public service announcements (PSAs) have been developed, including a PSA that features Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Jeff Reid. Kick counting is being recognized as the first proactive strategy that may help reduce the risk of stillbirth.

Summer Infant, a leader in the juvenile products field and a long-time supporter of First Candle, for its support of First Candle's programs having raised more than $270,000 for the charity. A few of the auction items available include vacation packages to Belize, Hawaii and Telluride, an NFL Pro-Bowl package and an autographed Derek Jeter jersey. Formerly the Windflower Ball, donations may still be directed to the Alexander Williamson Noble Memorial Fund in honor of its founder, Esmeralda Williamson Noble.

More information on the event, including tickets, tables, sponsorship opportunities and donations, can be found at A limited number of press passes are available upon request. First Candle is a leading national nonprofit dedicated to safe pregnancies and the survival of babies through the first years of life. This mission is accomplished with programs of research, education and advocacy, while at the same time providing compassionate grief support to all those affected by the death of a baby. Recently given a 4-star ranking by Charity Navigator, America's premier independent charity evaluator, First Candle meets all requirements as set forth by the Better Business Bureau and is listed in its Wise Giving Guide. The American Institute of Philanthropy ranks First candle as one of the nation's top charities worthy of donor support. For more information on how to help your baby survive and thrive, to access grief support or to make a donation, please visit or call 1.800.221.7437.

To list an upcoming event please contact


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