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Thursday, January 3, 2013

#HIball


On December 20th I walked upon the streets of New York.

I had just checked in to my hotel room. It was small, just enough space for a bed. I changed into my Walking Gallery jacket and left for the gala. Alex Fair and folks from the NY chapter of Health 2.0 were going to sell art in the hope of help raising money for charity.

As I walked down the street, darkness fell.  Vast piles of trash bags lined the avenue. My footsteps echoed on the wet pavement people were rushing home from work and school. A big sister walked with her little sister. Then a caregiver guided a child with autism past a looming bin and passerby. I looked for the club where we were going to host the gala.

Columbus 72 was a small club sandwiched between many buildings. I went down the steep stairway into the basement of the bar.  For a night it was to become a winter wonderland. Paper snowflakes and lights filled the air and structural poles were beribboned like candy canes. Across the room, I saw Alex Fair in his winter themed red and white sweater. He greeted me with a smile and a hug.

The club was just finishing up a start up health incubator. People filled the room as I pulled out two paintings that I bought as additions to the auction.  The room was filled with the large pieces from the UN non-communicable disease summit of September 2011.  The works of multiple artists were on display and we were tweeting under the hastag #HIball.

I also brought The Walking Gallery jacket for Esther Dyson.  Esther soon showed up and I smiled as gave her the jacket. Then Brian Sivak CTO from HHS arrived.  Esther was our moderator as we talked about the future of healthcare.

I was surprised when I began to speak how a few members of the crowd were willing to be quiet. Even with the microphone it was quite challenging to be heard as the crowd drank, ate and conversed over our words. Esther and I asked people to please be quiet so others attendees could hear. Esther did a great job explaining what was going on in cutting edge health.  Bryan focused on the future of current measures at HHS.  As we wrapped the conversation, I asked the crowd if anyone would be willing to save a life.  In the few seconds of quiet after the question a few hands shot up.  I followed the question up by explaining an individual who would be an organ donor would need a care partner in New York.  If he could get a care partner he would be able to save another’s life.  I was so happy to see several people come forward and express their willingness to help.  I happy to report he now has a care partner.


Soon the art Auction began.  John M. Luke Jr. from Storage Wars New York was the auctioneer. He and I exchange some comments. I explained that I had spent my youth working in flea markets and was quite comfortable with the work of helping an auctioneer.  We worked side-by-side, I explaining the art as he began the auction process. The room was full of individuals working for start-ups, grad students and people working in health tech space. There were not a lot of high dollar folks in the crowd, so a great deal of the art was sold at affordable prices. My only concern was the loudness of the conversations in the room. I didn't think most people could hear what we had to say. I did ask them many times to be quiet and listen.  I found it so funny that adults were having trouble learning the lessons of a preschooler. We did manage to sell the majority of the art which was great in itself as the art had been in a storage locker in New York for the past year.

I also was honored to meet Walking Gallery member Wen Dombrowsky's husband whom I had heard so many wonderful things about. I took a picture of them together. I met some lovely people in New York who are working on healthcare.
 
I thank Alex Fair from Medstartr so much for us all he did to get the art out of storage, auctioned and delivered. This precious art could've been thrown away or destroyed, but was saved because of this caring and loving man.

As the evening festivities wrapped up, I left the club and went back into the New York night. I went back to my small hotel room and slept. In the morning the weather was poor. In the pouring rain and winds, I tried to hail a cab but was unsuccessful.  I went back into the Comfort Inn hotel where I was staying. The lovely front desk clerk named Penny called car service after call service. No one was taking fares.  Finally she called a driver she knew and he said he could take me to Penn Station.  I caught my train and got back to DC in time for my younger son's Christmas party at school.  I was so glad that the art gala saved some art from destruction and so glad I was able to make new friends and visit old ones.



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