The Skin Cancer Foundation Raises $550,000 At Star Studded Champions for Change Gala

More than 400 guests gathered to raise funds for skin cancer education initiatives and celebrate the Foundation’s longstanding supporters

Thursday, October 19, 2017 (New York, NY) – On October 17, The Skin Cancer Foundation held its 21st annual Gala at Cipriani 25 Broadway in New York City. The Champions for Change Gala is the Foundation’s signature fundraising event, and $550,000 was raised to support the organization’s research initiatives, educational materials and awareness programs.

More than 400 guests attended the event, including Skin Cancer Foundation donors, industry and physician allies, celebrity supporters and members of the media. Notable guests included Sally Field, Famke Janssen and Brooke Shields. 

After a Cocktail Reception co-hosted by Lands’ End and Olay, guests were ushered into the ballroom for the seated dinner and formal program. The evening was hosted by Tony award-winning actress Annaleigh Ashford, who kept the evening lively as she introduced the nights speakers, honorees and entertainment.

Skin Cancer Foundation President Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, took the stage to talk about the Foundation’s work and plans for the future.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work The Skin Cancer Foundation has done to raise awareness and encourage people to take better care of their skin,” said Dr. Sarnoff. “Now we must take on the challenge of convincing people to act on the information we have provided, and embrace their own personal role in the fight.”

During the evening’s program, the Foundation presented four awards:

  • The first Champion for Change Award was presented to Sephora, one of the Foundation’s most committed corporate partners. Priya Venkatesh, Vice President of Merchandising, Skincare and Hair, accepted the award on the company’s behalf. Sephora has raised $6 million for the Foundation through sales of the Sun Safety Kit, an exclusive collection of sunscreen and sunless tanning favorites from top beauty brands.
  • The Legacy Award was presented to Johnnie and Rex Amonette, MD, who have been invaluable supporters of The Skin Cancer Foundation since its inception.
  • The 2017 Media Award was presented to Cosmopolitan for the article “I’m a Derm and I Got Skin Cancer” written by Tula Karras. Chief Beauty Director Leah Wyar Romito accepted the award on the magazine’s behalf.
  • The second Champion for Change Award was presented to weather anchor Sam Champion, a longstanding friend of the Foundation who has shared his personal experience to raise skin cancer awareness.

Additional highlights from the evening included:

  • CBS This Morning anchor Norah O’Donnell shared her melanoma experience alongside the dermatologist who treated her, Skin Cancer Foundation Senior Vice President and Gala Co-Chair Elizabeth K. Hale, MD.
  • Country-rock duo The Sisterhood (Alyssa Bonagura and Ruby Stewart) performed three songs, wowing the crowd with their soaring vocals on “One Light.”
  • Amazon, one of the Foundation’s newest corporate partners, was recognized for their $50,000 pledge of support.
  • Sam Champion received a special surprise when his best friend, broadcast journalist Josh Elliott, arrived to present him with his award.

The Gala was chaired by Dr. Hale, Adam Schweitzer (Partner/Board Member, ICM Partners) and Stephanie Schweitzer. The Honorary Chair was Marcia Robbins-Wilf, EdD. The Gala Committee included Mr. and Mrs. Anson H. Beard; Jeffrey Brackeen, MD; Karen E. Burke, MD, PHD; Kim Campbell; Doris Day, MD; Dendy Engelman, MD; April Franzino, Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH; Susan Manber; Ariel Ostad, MD; Mili Dutt Reddy, Anne Reilly and Howard Sobel, MD.


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About The Skin Cancer Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. Since its inception in 1979, the Foundation has recommended following a complete sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade and covering up with clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, in addition to daily sunscreen use. For more information, visit 

Arielle Grabel,; 646-583-7987
Ali Venosa,; 646-583-7979