Fox Takes Stage at ‘A Funny Thing Happened’ Gala

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by Mary Chapman |

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Those attending The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s (MJFF) “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s” annual fundraiser got to hear from the organization’s founder, Michael J. Fox.

Nearly 700 supporters converged on the Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City recently to celebrate the progress of MJFF-funded global research programs. Since its founding in 2000, the organization has poured some $1.5 billion into scientific investigations to find better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

To date, the 20-year-old fundraising gala has raised more than $103 million — $5 million last year alone. As directed by the MJFF board, all gala proceeds go directly to research programs.

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“Since the earliest years of the foundation, you have believed in us,” Fox told the audience, according to a press release, where gala images may be viewed. “And you have shared our vision for the power of science to transform lives.”

The event, which was in-person after two years off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was hosted by Denis Leary. The actor and fellow comedians Michelle Buteau, Mike Birbiglia, and Colin Quinn  brought levity to the affair.

Actress Julianne Moore introduced a short film directed by Fox’s production partner and foundation board member Nelle Fortenberry that highlighted the foundation’s efforts to support patients through research.

The #FoxGala also featured performances by singers Brad Paisley and Lisa Fischer. Fox came on stage with his guitar to join them and Sting in a performance of the Police’s classic hit, “Message in a Bottle.”

Many of Fox’s friends and foundation supporters attended the gala, including TV personality and journalist Willie Geist, television host and political commentator George Stephanopoulos, broadcast journalist Katie Couric, actress Julianna Margulies, NBA player Blake Griffin, singer Joan Jett, actor Richard Kind, and film director Spike Lee.

“The great thing about The Michael J. Fox Foundation is that you know where the money is going and it has changed lives,” said Buteau. “People can wake up, have new determination, fight, and put pep into their step, breath into their body because of this foundation. I think a lot of people think ‘my voice doesn’t matter or my dollar doesn’t count,’ but here it absolutely does.”

Fox, best known for his work on the TV show “Family Ties” and the “Back to the Future” film trilogy, publicly disclosed his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 1998. During his career, Fox won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards, and also was awarded a Grammy in 2011 for Best Spoken Word Album.

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