‘Cool Comedy’ raises over $1.2M for Scleroderma Research Foundation
Fundraiser also was a tribute to longtime board member Bob Saget
The Scleroderma Research Foundation’s (SRF) annual “Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine, A Tribute to Bob Saget” event, a recent evening of levity to raise scleroderma research funds and awareness, and to honor a longtime supporter, garnered more than $1.2 million.
Some 500 people attended the luminary-laden event, presented as part of the 19th Annual New York Comedy Festival, which featured top names in comedy and music to raise funds for the SRF, according to a press release from the foundation. The event also celebrated the life of the late Bob Saget, a “relentless champion” for those affected by scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder thought to affect about 300,000 U.S. residents.
The organization’s signature fundraiser was hosted by Jeff Ross and featured entertainers Ronny Chieng, Nikki Glaser, and Michael Che. Also performing were musicians Adam Duritz and David Immergluck of the rock band Counting Crows, who performed a rendition of “A Long December,” which Duritz said was a Saget favorite. Attendees were served a dinner prepared by celebrity chef Susan Feniger.
Comedian and actor Saget, who died last year, became involved with the foundation after attending “Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine” in 1991. The following year, he performed at the event, ultimately becoming one of its key organizers and producers, helping to raise more than $25 million over 30 years of heading the fundraiser.
Saget, an SRF board member since 2003, also contributed to the organization’s day-to-day operations, meeting with patients and sharing how scleroderma affected his family. His sister, Gay Saget, died in 1994 from complications of scleroderma.
Inaugural Bob Saget Legacy Award presented
As part of the event, Caroline Hirsch, founder of the New York Comedy Festival and owner of the New York City comedy club Carolines on Broadway, was awarded the inaugural Bob Saget Legacy Award, which will be presented annually to an individual who follows Saget’s example by making extraordinary efforts to spread scleroderma awareness and raise funds to find a cure.
Hirsch worked alongside Saget, supporting the organization for more than 30 years.
“Through the Scleroderma Research Foundation, Bob’s legacy lives on and will always live on,” Hirsch said as she accepted the award.
“Every comic loves Caroline. I’m very grateful to her and she does a lot of work for the Scleroderma Research Foundation,” Ross said. “I miss Bob. We’re keeping his name alive. If you knew Bob—the real Bob was the guy who hosted this event. You never saw Bob cry unless it was at this event. You would see the inside of Bob, his heart at this event. He had a passion for the scleroderma community.”
Kelly Rizzo presented a video tribute to her late husband’s legacy.
“The fact that everyone is still showing up for Bob means so much. We’re all trying to do our best without him here,” Rizzo said. “Bob having this award in his name—there is no one else he’d rather give this first award to than to Caroline [Hirsch]. She’s been a champion for the cause for so many years, giving her venue to Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine for more than 20 years.”
The research foundation, established to fund and facilitate promising studies to find new treatments and ultimately a cure, has presented “Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine” since 1987, raising more than $30 million.
“Scleroderma is a disease that is potentially deadly and it’s under publicized; people don’t know what it is,” Jon LaPook, MD, said. “One of the things we wanted to do with our piece on CBS This Morning [with Bob] was to share what scleroderma is and what the research is. It needs more dollars; it’s one of those diseases that should get enough funding, so we’ll do anything we can to increase awareness and support for it, because the research is really exciting.”