Broadway Belts for PFF! raises over $465K for PF this year

Actor Robert Creighton presented with nonprofit's key award at gala

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by Mary Chapman |

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The 13th annual Broadway Belts for PFF! gala, put on by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF), raised more than $465,000 to fight pulmonary fibrosis (PF), a chronic lung disorder thought to affect more than 250,000 U.S. residents.

The sold-out event was held earlier this month at Sony Hall in New York City, and also presented via livestream. The nonprofit’s single-largest fundraiser of the year, it also seeks to heighten awareness of the progressive disease, which is marked by scarring of the lungs.

Once again, Broadway stars and other prominent members of the entertainment industry came together for an evening of music, comedy, and performance. Returning as host was actress and comedienne Julie Halston, who appeared in the off-Broadway production of “Fairycakes” in 2021. That year, she also received the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for raising funds for PFF.

“Year after year, I am humbled by the amazing show of support that the Broadway community gives to those affected by pulmonary fibrosis,” Halston said in a press release.

“The performers, crew and donors all came together to create a memorable night, drive funds to help fight this terrible disease and give us hope for the future,” Halston said.

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In a performance that drew tears from some attendees, Nicole Zuraitis sang “Just Like That,” Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy Award-winning song based on a real-life story about organ donation. Zuraitis was nominated for a Grammy in 2019 for her rendition of the Dolly Parton song “Jolene.”

Receiving the Ralph Howard Legacy Award for PF advocacy, and for his yearslong support of Broadway Belts for PFF! was stage and television actor Robert Creighton, whose mother died from PF at age 59. The award is named for Halston’s husband, a longtime New York-area broadcaster who died in 2018, a decade after his PF diagnosis.

Creighton has appeared in “Frozen” and “The Little Mermaid” on Broadway, and in “The Good Fight” on TV.

Howard and Halston created the fundraiser in 2010 in honor of Michael Kuchwara, an Associated Press theater critic who died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2010.

This event not only raises funds for vital research and programming, but also helps drive understanding about PF and its symptoms among a wide audience.

This year’s notable lineup included Kate Baldwin of “Hello, Dolly and “Finian’s Rainbow,” Julie Benko of “Funny Girl” and “Les Misérables,” and Emily Bergl, who’s appeared in “Good Night, Oscar,” “The Ferryman,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Also among the evening’s stars were Kevin Del Aguila — seen in “Some Like it Hot,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and “Frozen” — and Susan Mosher, of “Hairspray” and “The Wedding Planner.” Jason Tam of “Be More Chill” and Maria Wirries of “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Once on this Island” also took part in the gala.

“Julie Halston has been a tireless champion for pulmonary fibrosis research and awareness, and we are grateful to her and the amazing team for making this year’s Broadway Belts for PFF! such a spectacular show,” said William T. Schmidt, PFF’s president and CEO. “This event not only raises funds for vital research and programming, but also helps drive understanding about PF and its symptoms among a wide audience.”

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation seeks to accelerate the development of new treatments and works to advance care for PF patients.