Congenital Hyperinsulinism International’s (CHI) annual Sugar Soirée once again brought CHI supporters together to celebrate the congenital hyperinsulinism (HI) community and raise funds to improve the lives of children and adults born with this rare condition.
This year, the Sugar Soirée was held on November 4, at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey. Built in 1914, the Montclair Art Museum is an architecturally stunning heritage building that entices visitors with its portico and neo-classical columns. The Native American and American art collection is one of the most comprehensive in the region. The event included a private viewing of the art collection.
The evening began with VIP cocktails at 6 PM with our host for the evening, Cheri Preston (you can read more about Cheri below). All other guests joined us at 7:00 PM for cocktails, followed by our program, auction and dinner.
CHI strives for a “future without lows” when everyone born with HI has access to medication, surgery, blood sugar testing supplies, effective treatments, and a cure, one day. Our mission includes ending brain damage and death from the condition and living without fear of hypoglycemia. CHI is a global lifeline to those born with HI.
Funds raised at the Sugar Soirée will continue to support the work of CHI:
- Raising vital awareness of HI to end preventable brain damage and death from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- Funding HI research for better treatments and a cure.
- Helping patients gain access to specialized treatment, medications, and supplies.
- Supporting those living with the disease and their families every step of the way.
The Chairperson of this year’s Sugar Soirée is Julie Sheldon. Julie is the parent of a child born with HI and Vice President of the CHI Board of Directors. Julie is continually adding value to the organization with her keenly analytical and strategic thinking, while always lending a hand to those in need. Julie Raskin, CHI’s CEO shares: “We are delighted and excited that Julie is this year’s Sweetest Chairperson!”
Our 2023 Sugar Soiréee host for the evening is Cheri Preston. Cheri is an Edward R. Murrow and Gracie Allen award-winning broadcaster who currently anchors the top-of-the-hour news and bottom-of-the-hour updates for ABC News Radio. She is writer and host of the weekly ABC Audio newsmagazine “Perspective,” which airs nationwide as a radio show and as a podcast. Cheri serves on the National and New York Boards of SAG-AFTRA and is the Chair of the SAG-AFTRA National Broadcast Steering Committee. She has been named four times as one of Radio Ink’s “Most Influential Women in Radio” and she is thrilled to be hosting this year’s Sugar Soirée!
CHI is thrilled to be honoring Prof. Sarah Flanagan with the Be My Sugar Researcher Award. Sarah has made outstanding contributions to HI genetic research including her 2022 groundbreaking publication in the journal Nature Genetics on the HK1 gene as a genetic cause of HI. Sarah is also the 2022 Million Dollar Bike Ride Grant Recipient for her work “Detecting Low-Level Mosaic Variants from blood samples in hyperinsulinism to improve diagnosis.” Her work focuses on finding the genetic causes of HI, which leads to better management of the condition for individuals born with it. Collaborating with Sarah and the University of Exeter has also made possible the Open Hyperinsulinism Genes Project that provides genetic testing for congenital hyperinsulinism available to anyone in the world.
Leo Folsom will be the recipient of the Be My Sugar Extraordinary Fundraiser Award. Leo was one of our inaugural Million Dollar Bike Ride Team members nine years ago and served as the captain of the team for many years. The Million Dollar Bike Ride has raised over $700,000 for HI research. Leo has also supported our efforts to raise funds year after year as part of the Sugar Soirée initiative. His achievements have set a superb example of an individual born with HI who is making an enormous difference in the HI community. Additionally, Leo is a patient advocate member of the Collaborative Research Network. His excellent work in the Nomenclature Workstream has elevated this issue for CHI awareness projects.
For the first time CHI will be awarding an outstanding individual with the CHI Be My Sugar Extraordinary Nurse Award. During the diagnostic process, babies and children with HI often spend weeks or months inpatient, where nursing care is central to their well-being. Children with HI often return to the hospital for both planned visits or when they are sick, and they regularly see their clinical team at clinic appointments. Nurses play an important role in all kinds of clinical visits. This year’s inaugural award goes to Heather McKnight. Heather has been a key member of the HI community for over a quarter of a century, first as an outstanding floor nurse at CHOP, and in more recent years as an important member of the CHOP HI Clinical Team where she is a nurse practitioner. In both of these roles, Heather has shown exceptional dedication to her patients and their families. Additionally, Heather is also a fantastic collaborator working with CHI and many partners around the world on several important initiatives of the CHI Collaborative Research Network.
Attending the Sugar Soirée is a wonderful opportunity to support a meaningful cause and spend time with a fantastic community, all while enjoying a unique and coveted dining and entertainment experience. The evening will be catered once again by always delicious Tia’s Food of Love and our musical guests will be former CHI Staff member and professional singer-songwriter Janna Pelle and her husband Eric Vanderzee. The Catskills-based couple are both multi-faceted musicians. Janna Pelle is a classically trained pianist, singer, drummer, guitarist, and producer and released her most recent album Echolocation in 2022. Eric Vanderzee is a classical guitarist turned experimental musician who recently released his debut album, Divergent.
The Sugar Soirée will offer an unparalleled opportunity for sponsors to demonstrate philanthropic commitment at a premier event that brings together people from across the country who are part of the CHI community, including leaders in finance, healthcare, biotech, research, the arts, and technology. For more information on Sugar Soirée sponsorships, visit here.
If you cannot attend this year’s Sugar Soirée, but would like to make a donation, you can donate here.
Hotels: If you are traveling from out of town to attend the Sugar Soirée, we suggest the following nearby hotels: The MC Hotel, 690 Bloomfield Ave in Montclair; The George, 37 N Mountain Ave in Montclair; or The Cambria Hotel West Orange, 12 Rooney Circle in West Orange, NJ.
CHI is a 501(c)(3) organization in the United States. U.S. Contributions and Auction Donations are tax-deductible. CHI’s Tax ID number is 20-3068945.
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