Broadway sensations took to the stage at the Edison ballroom to raise money in support of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
Broadway lovers worldwide know Julie Halston as a performer, from her roles in Hairspray, Gypsy, and most recently, the Tony Award-winning Tootsie. But Julie’s credits don’t end on the stage. Beyond this, she is a founding partner of BROADWAY BELTS FOR PFF, and a massive partner and supporter of the worldwide Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. The event, now taking place at the iconic Edison Ballroom in Times Square, began as a tribute back in 2010 for Michael Kuchwara, a legendary theater critic who tragically passed away of the disease that year. What started out as a small tribute is now an annual sold-out event that has raised over 400,000 dollars for the pulmonary fibrosis foundation. In 2018, Julie Halston lost her beloved husband Ralph due to complications from his Pulmonary fibrosis, so the event is very near and dear to her heart.
“We decided, as not only a memorial service but as a fundraiser, that we would start raising funds through this incredible event,” Julie said when we asked about the origin of this annual evening. “But also to help support the doctors, the patients, the caregivers, who really are struggling with this disease. And it has grown! We did it at Birdland for four, five years, and it has grown so big that now, we’re at the Edison Ballroom, and hundreds and hundreds of people come every year! The broadway community is nothing short of spectacular, they are so generous, they are so amazing.”
It is amazing to see stars who use their unbelievable talent to raise money for a good cause and to see the incredible group of people who performed at the gala was spectacular. Bernadette Peters was in attendance to perform and show her support of Julie, Ralph and Daryl Roth, the 2020 honraree a and recipient of the Ralph Howard Legacy Award. “My dear friend Julie Halston and her husband Ralph, he had PFF,” Bernadette said. “It’s a terrible disease, they don’t know where it comes from or how you get it. But what’s so wonderful, is that this started ten years ago and they’ve made a lot of progress, they’ve raised a lot of money so that they can keep doing more and more research, and we’re doing what we can to help out. And my dear friend Daryl Roth is being honored tonight, so we’re here in support of her as well.”
Also in attendance was former New York Yankee and Grammy Nominee Bernie Williams, whose father passed away from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and since then he’s been very supportive of the foundation and moving towards finding a cure for the disease. “We didn’t know too much about the disease at the time,” Bernie said. “With that, it really made a huge impact in my life and the life of my family. So I’m teaming up with the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and an organization called Breathless, for the last 3 years we’ve been reaching out to communities and educating people about IPF, it’s symptoms, and how they can get better.”
Daryl Roth was the recipient of the Ralph Howard legacy award, and it was a very well deserved honor. Julie Halston took to the stage to tearfully reminisce about the lung transplant that Ralph endured at New York presbyterian, and how Daryl was the producer of the show that she’d been in at the time. “Daryl made sure that there was an understudy on call at all times.” She said, “ After Ralph’s surgery, I would come home to gift baskets, food, and whatever else that I needed. I can tell you that not many producers would do that. But Daryl did.”
The show opened with an amazing performance of Piece of my heart done by Broadway’s own Orfeh, best known for her roles as Paulette in Legally Blonde, and most recently as Kit in Pretty Woman. She knows exactly how to work a crowd, and everybody in the audience was blown away by her vocals.
She was followed by Sierra Boggess performing A Little Bit Less Than, J Harrison Ghee performing Hold Me In Your Heart from Daryl Roth’s Tony Award Winning Kinky Boots, and even a special performance by Bernadette Peters, where she sung A dream is a wish your heart makes, dedicating it to Daryl Roth.
The Performers put their hearts into creating an incredible show for its audience, donators raising thousands of dollars in support of Pulmonary Fibrosis research, in the hopes of one day finding a cure.
Click here to learn more about the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, and how you can help to support the cause!