2009 New York Bag Ladies Luncheon

Celebrity & designer bag auction and lunch raises nearly $175,000

April 22, 2009 — The Today Show’s Meredith Vieira received the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s “Woman of Achievement” award at the New York Bag Ladies Luncheon on Tuesday, April 21 at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan. In total, the first-time event raised nearly $175,000 to benefit lupus support services and innovative research across New York City and around the country.

Jessye Norman and Meredith Vieira

Renowned soprano Jessye Norman, fresh from curating the “Honor!” series at Carnegie Hall, hosted the luncheon, which opened with a silent auction of nearly 200 top designer and celebrity-donated bags. Celebrities donating bags included Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, Brooke Shields, Kim Kardashian, the cast of Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives. Designer donations came from Prada, Tod’s, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo and many more. 100% of proceeds from winning bids will support the lupus cause.

Legendary CBS broadcaster Charles Osgood introduced the luncheon’s honoree and close personal friend, Meredith Vieira. In accepting the award for her contribution to women’s health reporting, she remarked, “I've done a lot more thinking about the bags we carry through life. The ones that are filled with our own personal challenges. And in each of ours, there is the challenge of chronic illness…For now, our satisfaction must come from standing united in support of more research and better care. One thing I have learned about living with chronic illness is that you can never abandon hope.”

Meredith Vieira also contributed her own favorite bag to the auction—the backpack she carried at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

(left) Meredith Vieira with her backpack, (right) Meredith Vieira
with husband Richard Cohen and friend Charles Osgood

Additionally, the Foundation presented a Public Service Award to the team behind the new “Could I have lupus?” national PSA campaign: Frances Ashe-Goins, RN, MPH, Deputy Director of the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and The Ad Council, Inc represented by Heidi Arthur, Senior Vice President for Campaigns.

Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans, is most often diagnosed in women between the ages of 15 and 44. It is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and stroke among that demographic.

Margaret Dowd, S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Executive Director added, “Our goal for the New York Bag Ladies Luncheon is to raise awareness and funds for the fight against lupus. It is a dangerous disease that attacks young women in the prime of life. It is often under-diagnosed. We want young women who are plagued by ongoing symptoms of fever, aches, fatigue and rashes to ask their doctors, ‘Could I have lupus?’”