“1.5 billion dollars is a lot of dollars. It’s inspirational to me. The goodwill that Michael and Tracy bring out in people, the amount of commitment that they have demonstrated to this essential cause, it’s incredible and shows you what you can do,” said Samantha Bee, comedian and supporter of The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) as she spoke on the red carpet of MJFF’s annual A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Cure Parkinson’s.
On Saturday, October 29, nearly 600 friends gathered at the extraordinary Casa Cipriani in New York City. Guests celebrated the Foundation’s tireless work accelerating Parkinson’s research and its astounding global impact on better treatments, a cure and, even prevention toward the disease. Since its start in 2000, MJFF has funded an incredible $1.5 billion in high-impact research programs, and the gala has helped raise more than $112 million of that sum, with $4 million of that total coming from 2022 alone. Thanks to MJFF’s Board of Directors, 100 percent of proceeds the evening goes directly to speeding the Foundation’s global research programs.
It was a star-studded evening, bringing together #FoxGala friends and supporters for a night filled with comedy geniuses and musical talent. Host Denis Leary opened the show with his band The Enablers, by reminiscing on Michael J. Fox and the Foundation’s impact over the years. The evening also included hilarious performances from Samantha Bee, Lewis Black and Jim Gaffigan. Actress and author Kimberly Williams-Paisley — whose late mom, Linda Williams, worked at the Foundation in its earliest years — introduced a short film directed by Michael’s producing partner and Foundation Board member, Nelle Fortenberry. The film documented a day in the life of the Foundation, which featured MJFF’s staff, who work relentlessly each day to accelerate Parkinson’s research.
Actor and MJFF Board member Ryan Reynolds surprised guests when he provided remarks virtually and introduced star-studded performances by Steven Page (formerly of Barenaked Ladies) and Brad Paisley. All guests were brought to their feet when together they performed “If I had a Million Dollars” and “Land of 1000 Dances.”
Many of Michael’s and the Foundation’s closest friends gathered to attend the event including MJFF Board members Willie Geist and George Stephanopoulos alongside his wife Ali Wentworth, Talia Balsam, John Slattery and Mariska Hargitay. View the gallery below and search #FoxGala on social to get an exclusive look into the celebration.
Canadian musician and songwriter Steven Page shared his praise for Michael and the Foundation’s work on the red carpet:
“We can see the work the Foundation has done to fund research, to make changes, and it fills me with hope. People see it as a cause they can get behind because they can see a future without Parkinson’s. It’s encouraging. I’m a Canadian, we might as well have him printed on our money. But seriously, Michael has been a hero to me since I was a teenager.”
Michael said it best in the Foundation’s gala video on the big screen looking across a room of friends and supporters:
“What we’ve done is astounding. I’m so grateful to all of you for being part of this. We’ve done a lot of things, making a difference in the lives of patients. We’ve given them an outlet for their frustration, their ambition, their aspirations and their hope, that’s not something I take lightly. I appreciate when I look around and see all of you, and I realize its not something you take lightly. It’s a real commitment and we’ll get it done.”
Read more of Michael’s reflections on what this event means to him and how he stays optimistic even in the face of life’s challenges in exclusive interviews with Entertainment Tonight and the latest “Kindness” issue of People.
Check out these moments from the #FoxGala.
Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan alongside their children at the 2022 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Cure Parkinson's gala.
Steven Page (formerly of Barenaked Ladies) and Brad Paisley perform at the 2022 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Cure Parkinson's gala.
Host Denis Leary and his band The Enablers kick-off the 2022 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Cure Parkinson's gala.
Actors John Slattery and Talia Balsam introduce longtime friends Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan at the 2022 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Cure Parkinson's gala.
Michael J. Fox backstage with Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann at the 2022 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Cure Parkinson's gala.
Comedian Samantha Bee performing at the 2022 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Cure Parkinson's gala.
MJFF Board member and NBC Sunday TODAY host Willie Geist providing remarks at the 2022 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Cure Parkinson's gala.
Actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley introducing MJFF's 2022 gala video directed by Michael’s producing partner and Foundation Board member, Nelle Fortenberry at the 2022 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Cure Parkinson's gala.