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Black Tie International:
Walk to Cure Arthritis
Photos by:  Sean Zanni/
Courtney Gush, Director of Walk to Cure Arthritis NYC.  Photo by:  Sean Zanni/
Courtney Gush, Director of Walk to Cure Arthritis NYC
Walk to Cure Arthritis Cocktail Reception

April 10, 2014

On Friday night, professionals, philanthropists and politicos alike gathered at The Plaza Private Residences to raise money for Walk to Cure Arthritis, coming to NYC on May 16th. The invitation boasted a “New York, New York” theme as this year marks the first time the National Walk to Cure Arthritis Honoree title has been given to a New Yorker. 

NIAF picture is: Lisa and Sal Salibello, and John Viola, President of the National Italian American Foundation with Renee Cafaro.  Photo by:  Sean Zanni/
 Lisa and Sal Salibello, and John Viola, President of the National Italian American Foundation with Renee Cafaro
 Nicole DiCocco, Guy Clark, Renee Cafaro, Lauren Lawrence and Harrison Morgan.  Photo by:  Sean Zanni/
 Nicole DiCocco, Guy Clark, Renee Cafaro, Lauren Lawrence and Harrison Morgan
Massimo LoBuglio, owner of Little Cupcake Bakeshop enterprises and Anastasia Frank.  Photo by:  Sean zanni/
Massimo LoBuglio, owner of Little Cupcake Bakeshop enterprises and Anastasia Frank
Sal Salibello and State Senator Gustavo Rivera.  Photo by:  Sean Zanni/
Sal Salibello and State Senator Gustavo Rivera
 Scott Buccheit, Allison Ritter, and Naeem Delbridge.  Photo by:  Sean Zanni/
 Scott Buccheit, Allison Ritter, and Naeem Delbridge
Auction.  Photo by:  Sean Zanni/
Auction & Atmosphere.  Photo by:  Sean Zanni/
Auction & Atmosphere
Goody Bags.  Photo by:  Sean Zanni/
Goody Bags

Democratic strategist and writer, Renee Cafaro was given the honor in recognition of her strength coping with Seronegative Arthritis and Fibromyalgia since age 11. Now 31, Renee will lead tens of thousands of people who will walk the 5K or one-mile route in more than 115 communities across the country and has personally committed to raise over $25,000 for the cause. After this fundraiser, her team, The Joint Chiefs, are on target to exceed that goal handily.

“Renee has been a champion in the fight against arthritis and we are thrilled to have her named as our National Walk Honoree,” said Courtney Gush, Director of the Walk to Cure Arthritis. “Renee’s passion and voice have helped us draw attention to the prevalence of arthritis among people of all backgrounds and highlight the need to discover improved treatments and a cure. It is inspiring that she is not just surviving but really thriving, so we are happy to be here and do our part to support such a special evening.”

Cafaro spoke about hiding her disease for a decade while she climbed the career latter from labor union intern to successful strategist, working tirelessly to elect working-class champions like NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer despite Arthritis pain. This notion was ironic but very refreshing as guests stood in her glamor-meets-rock’n’roll Fifth Avenue apartment that is more fitting of the “Top 1%” elite than a humble progressive. After the program, guests mingled and satiated their appetites with freely-flowing Manhattans and cute city-themed fare like Black-and-White cookies whilst perusing the many silent auction items on offer.

 “I curated the silent auction to have a New York theme and in what seemed like an instant, we received 25 items and experiences from some of the most iconic establishments from across the City – not to mention all of the wonderful elected officials and prestigious New Yorkers who lent their names to the host committee,” Cafaro said.

 “I am truly touched to receive so much support from such a diverse and powerful network, especially when I have spent most of my life struggling for understanding from academics, doctors and family. It is infuriating to think of how many have dismissed my symptoms before diagnosis and even more outrageous that some still do even after NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases confirmed that I have arthritis. Arthritis is not just ‘minor aches and pains’ that can be handled with aspirin and a stiff upper lip. It is the #1 cause for disability in the Nation, affecting millions of  adults and 300,000 children. With your help, we will combat this appalling ignorance, the stigma, the misconceptions and this disease. With your donations and auction purchases tonight, we will provide hope for the millions like me,” Cafaro concluded.

Upon departure, all partygoers received gift bags packed with promotional Walk to Cure Arthritis swag like registration forms, awareness materials, buttons and branded cookies. Cafaro and the Arthritis Foundation staff made pleas to many attendees to join them on May 16th for the NYC charity walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.



For more information, about the Walk to Cure Arthritis, visit The Arthritis Foundation ( is the largest and most trusted nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the needs and challenges of people living with arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis through vital information, advocacy, scientific research and community.

joyce brooks, gerard mckeon.  photo by:  rose billings

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