Russell Simmons & Others Honored at T.J. Martell Foundation's Honors Gala
7 months ago
Celebs honored by leading organization in leukemia, cancer, and AIDS research funding
Reporting by Danielle Cheesman
Russell Simmons was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award at the T.J. Martell Foundation's Honors Gala in New York on Tuesday night (just days after appearing on our Celebrity Sperm Donor wishlist for his philanthropic efforts).
Fellow honoree Randy Jackson, who received the Lifetime Music Industry Award, also arrived at the Midtown Manhattan's Cipriani restaurant for the event, but didn't speak on the headline-making beef between his "American Idol" co-horts Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey). Instead, on the red carpet, he went the comic relief route and revealed his plans to go to Guam, ya know, "to see what the clubs are like."
Before presenting Simmons with his award, Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, spoke to Loop 21 about his ongoing search for an actor to play a young Michael Jackson in "Motown: The Musical," Gordy's upcoming autobiographic play.
"I don't know what we're auditioning for because we've got so many great people," said Gordy. "But we're always looking to find that magical person. For Michael, they gotta come with something, but I'm used to that, I've found quite a few stars."
Before giving his acceptance speech inside, Simmons, who arrived with his fashionista niece Angela Simmons in tow, told us he's already teaching his young daughters, Ming, 12, and Aoki, 10, about philanthropy.
"I've taught them that they have every opportunity to do a lot for a lot of people because of their celebrity and because of their resources," Simmons said. "Their resources are only given to them so they can give to other people. Celebrity has no value at all unless it's used to benefit others. They get [the idea of charity] right away."
Backed by a roaring chorus, Bebe Winans kicked off the night singing "America," a song he penned himself and told Loop 21 "unites us all."
Winans was honored to be at the event as both his grandmothers died from cancer, and the organization—launched by music industry veteran Tony Martell after his son died from leukemia at age 19—has become a leader in funding for innovative leukemia, cancer, and AIDS research.
During Simmons' acceptance speech, he applauded Martell, saying, "He realizes that life's only purpose is service and he realizes what's so special about that, and that process alone is what causes happiness. There's a stage, there's moments in our lives where we realize the only thing that matters is the process itself."