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Empire Ball 2016

2016 Empire Ball
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The 33rd annual Empire Ball, presented by the Real Estate Division of the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) Foundation, took place on Wednesday, December 14, 2016, at New York’s Grand Hyatt Hotel.  Nearly 1,000 members of the metropolitan real estate and construction community united to raise $1.25 million for the cure-focused work of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.  In its history, the Empire Ball has raised $36 million for diabetes research.

A lively cocktail reception that filled the hotel's ground floor was followed by dinner in the Empire State ballroom.  During the program, Paul J. Amrich, Vice Chairman, CBRE, Inc., was presented with the Leadership Award.  Bert Rahm, Vice President & General Manager, Turner Construction Company, received the Camillo Ricordi Humanitarian Award. Lucy G. Carter, Senior Vice President, Project & Development Services JLL, accepted the Peter L. DiCapua Distinguished Service Award. 

The evening’s emcee, Fox Business Network’s anchor Nicole Petallides, kicked off the program by thanking all of the event's wonderful, generous sponsors; singling out for special mention Presenting Sponsor, Turner Construction Company. Next up was DRI Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer, Joshua Rednik, who introduced a video segment illustrating the impact of a recent visit the honorees took to the Diabetes Research Institute in Miami. The video also included part of a news segment recently aired on WCBS-TV, in which medical reporter Dr. Max Gomez interviewed DRI Foundation supporters Mitch Rubinstein and his son Todd, both of whom have type 1 diabetes. 

During the tour, the honorees met with DRI Director Dr. Camillo Ricordi and his staff of researchers and scientists. The visitors also spoke with several individuals who received islet-cell transplants at the DRI that have enabled them to remain free of injected insulin for more than 10 years.  And this year marks the first anniversary of insulin freedom for Wendy Peacock, the first patient to receive an islet-cell transplant using the innovative protocol known as the DRI BioHub.  These good works would not be possible without the support of the amazing friends of the Empire Ball.


Following the video, Nicole invited Chris Doscas to the stage.  Chris, son of National Board member John Doscas, has type 1 diabetes and he thanked everyone in the room for their support.  He acknowledged the Young Professionals in the room and he praised them for caring about “something that does not stem from social media”.  Chris introduced Randi Fibus-Caster, who flew in from Florida solely to speak to the Empire Ball’s guests. Randi has type 1 for a staggering 54 years; having been diagnosed at age five. She now is living free from injected insulin, thanks to two islet-cell transplants she received at the DRI.  As she said, she is “still a diabetic, but a healthy one.”  She is also “living proof” that the DRI is the best hope for a cure.

Presentation of awards followed Randi’s remarks. Last year’s Distinguished Service awardee, Avi Itzikowitz, Director of Operations at ATCO Properties and Management, Inc., presented Lucy Carter with her award.  Lucy was “thrilled and overwhelmed” to receive it and she congratulated the Ball’s co-founders Charlie Rizzo and Peter L. DiCapua on a “job well done”.

Dr. Camillo Ricordi presented his namesake Humanitarian award alongside last year’s recipient, William Sotomayor, Regional Director, New York at Ware Malcomb, to Bert Rahm. Bert congratulated his co-honorees, thanked Dr. Ricordi for allowing him to be honored in his name, and raised a metaphorical glass to toast the record number of people in the room and the dollars raised for the event.  He looks forward to the day that a cure is realized.

Alan M. Tarter, Managing Partner at Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP presented Paul J. Amrich with the Leadership Award.  Paul said he was honored and grateful for the amazing opportunity to be invited to receive this award. He paid tribute both to his “beautiful wife, Myra” and to his grandfather, who passed away from complications of diabetes.  Paul thanked his colleagues at CBRE and he summed up by saying that he has been humbled by the experience of visiting the DRI and being honored at the Empire Ball.

The program concluded with a video by Dan Boyle of the New York Rangers, who encouraged everyone to support the DRI by making a contribution on the Foundation’s webpage.

The Empire Ball introduced several innovations this year.  The Charles St. Paul Band made its inaugural appearance. Also, the menu this year was thoughtfully sourced to include artisanal cheeses, grass-fed beef, and urban, organic vegetables.  Dessert included a sugar-free option.

The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation congratulates the honorees and thanks the many wonderful sponsors and friends of the Empire Ball.

The DRI Foundation offers Special Thanks 

to our Grand Prize Package Donors:

Jim Dale, Grand Hyatt Hotel
Doug Donaldson, The Donaldson Organization
Brian Lynch & Gillian Renee Doucette, Trump National Golf Club

and to our Gift Bag Sponsors:

The Donaldson Organization
The Inserra Family
L&L Holding Company, LLC
Palladium Window Solutions
Time Warner
William Macklowe Company

Event Photos
Photo Credits:  Marc S. Levine Photography
A full gallery of event photos can be found at



Diabetes Research Institute Foundation
200 S. Park Road, Suite 100
Hollywood, FL 33021
[P]   (954) 964-4040
[TF] (800) 321-3437
[F]   (954) 964-7036

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