Elton John held his annual "An Enduring Vision" benefit gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation October 15 at Cipriani Wall Street. Attendees included Governor Andrew Cuomo, Billy Joel, Alec Baldwin and Hillary Clinton, who received the foundation's first ever Founder's Award.
Anderson Cooper, who has hosted the event for several years now, was called away to Washington D.C. to cover the debt ceiling.
Matt Lauer, who agreed to fill in at the eleventh hour. "He said it was something about having to go to Washington to cover the story about the ongoing government shutdown, the impending war over the debt ceiling, the dysfunction that has this nation hurtling at breakneck speed toward a financial abyss, and thus, thrusting parts of the world into economic disaster, which sounded like a lame ass excuse to me."
Lauer continued, "If I had a dime for every time things turned out this way in Washington, I could fund the cure for AIDS myself."
Before the awards were bestowed upon Sandra Lee, Ronald O. Perelman and Howard Rose, John's longtime agent, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health Julio Frenk presented John with the Harvard AIDS Initiative Leadership Award for his work to help eradicate the disease and help those living with it -- an award that his "dear friend, Princess Diana," was due to accept in 1997, but received posthumously.
"This is quite a humbling experience," John to the aud. "I am so humbled to be counted among such august company, but I'm also tremendously inspired by their courage, their vision, their generosity, their dedication and grace under fire. What I hope to add to their legacy is my own special brand of pigheaded stubbornness."
Stubbornness is what's required to end the epidemic, he said, and John promised Dr. Frenk that he will continue to be stubborn, "And believe me, I can be fucking stubborn."
The event, according to Rose, had already raised almost $3 million. After the live auction portion, John informed the crowd that there had also been an anonymous $1 million donation.
The night closed with Heart playing some of their greatest hits, opening the set with that famous guitar riff from 1977's "Barracuda."