Annual Empire Ball Raises Money for Good Cause

New York City’s real estate industry celebrates the 30th anniversary of the annual Empire Ball and aims to raise $1.4 million for the Diabetes Research Institute.

The Real Estate Division of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation will host the 30th anniversary of its Empire Ball at the Grand Hyatt in New York City on Wednesday, December 11, 2013. The annual fundraiser, supported by the New York real estate community and its affiliates, aims to raise $1.4 million in support of the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI). Located at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, the DRI is currently developing the DRI BioHub, an integrated “mini organ” that mimics the native pancreas, which scientists around the world believe could be the secret to unlocking the cure for diabetes.

This year’s Empire Ball honors Andrew Cooke, vice president of property management at Hines, the international real estate firm. Cooke, who will be presented with the Leadership Award, has been managing and leading successful real estate property and facility management teams for more than two decades and is responsible for 60 Americas locations and eight million square feet for Morgan Stanley.

Also being honored are Jay Badame, President and Chief Operating Officer of NY/NJ/PA for Tishman Construction, who will receive the Camillo Ricordi Humanitarian Award; and Joseph “Dee” Dussich, Chief Executive Officer and President of JAD Corporation of America, who will receive the Distinguished Service Award.

Charles Rizzo, Principal of The Rizzo Group, Vice Chair of the Empire Ball and member of its Board of Directors, initiated the event in 1983 with his close friend Peter L. DiCapua, Chairman of the DRI Real Estate Division and former COO of New York City’s ATCO. “When I first learned of my daughter’s diagnosis with type 1 diabetes 30 years ago, I was devastated but I quickly turned my fear and lack of knowledge into action with the support of my friends and colleagues within the real estate industry, including Peter who has been fighting this with me from the very beginning,” said Rizzo. “Nothing would make me happier than to see my only daughter cured of this disease that plagues my family and millions of others around the world.”

“There have been many advances in diabetes research since we started the event but the DRI is the only organization that is dedicated to finding a cure today – one that we wholeheartedly believe will be discovered in our lifetime. The continuous support of New York City’s real estate community over the years has been overwhelming and we know it will be an important contributing factor to finding the cure,” said DiCapua.

Since 1983, the New York real estate community and its affiliates have raised more than $32 million for diabetes research. For 15 years, the annual fundraiser was called the Pyramid Ball. In 1998, the event was renamed the Empire Ball and began supporting the DRI. Over the past 30 years, the event, which draws more than 1,000 attendees each year, has become the New York City real estate industry’s social and fundraising event of the season.

Tickets to the event are available for purchase. The black-tie affair will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt (109 East 42nd Street) in New York City with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and dancing. For more information on tickets, advertising opportunities and other ways to support DRI, please visit their website.

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