Broadway Belts Fund-raiser Generates Record $350,000 to Fight Pulmonary Fibrosis
This brought the amount raised in the event’s eight years to nearly $1.2 million. The proceeds support the foundation’s work and research seeking a cure for pulmonary fibrosis.
Julie Halston, a Broadway star and comedienne, hosted this year’s event March 8 in New York. She and her husband Ralph Howard came up with the idea of Broadway Belts for PFF! after their friend Michael Kuchwara died of interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. In an unfortunate coincidence, Howard was also diagnosed with IPF, but has since received a lung transplant.
“Broadway Belts for PFF! has been a labor of love from the start,” Halston said in a press release. “And through the enormous generosity of the Broadway community, we have grown bigger every year to provide resources for pulmonary fibrosis patients and their families.”
“Broadway Belts for PFF! is an extraordinary opportunity for us to raise awareness and funds for pulmonary fibrosis programs and research,” said William T. Schmidt, the president and chief executive officer of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. “On behalf of the pulmonary fibrosis community, I am pleased to thank and congratulate Julie Halston and the entire Broadway Belts team for a truly outstanding and memorable event.”
This year’s sold-out benefit on March 12 featured a Sweet 16 reunion of the Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray’s original cast. They included performers Marissa Jaret Winokur, Andrew Rannells, Harvey Fierstein, Jackie Hoffman, Clark Thorell, and Chester Gregory, and composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. All received standing ovations from the crowd.
The reunion honored Margo Lion, a producer who was a long-time supporter of Broadway Belts for PFF! Margo Lion. In her memory, this year’s show was directed by Carl Andress, with Christopher McGovern as musical director and Ed Windels as music coordinator.
Actors Bryan Terrell Clark, Robert Creighton, Lesli Margherita, Stephanie Gibson and Alex Getlin also were part of the show.
Bernie Williams, a former New York Yankees baseball player, made a special appearance as well, in memory of his father, who died of IPF in 2001. A long-time supporter of PFF, Williams has worked hard at his own expense to raise awareness of the disease. In October 2017 he was a special guest at the PFF Summit.
The benefit’s sponsors included Genentech, the Gay and Doug Lane Charitable Foundation, the Steffy Family Foundation, and the Ettinger Foundation.