Kim Kardashian West was honored with the first Gift of Life Impact Award, at the Gift of Life Marrow Registry’s Inaugural One Huge Night Gala in Los Angeles on Oct. 29 at the SLS Beverly Hills.
Kardashian West, of L.A., was recognized for her support for Gift of Life and the “Hope4Adam” campaign, which in 2016 sought to find a matching donor for a young Jewish father named Adam Krief, of blessed memory, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer and required a life-saving bone marrow transplant. He could not find a match among over 30 million people on the worldwide registry, but the campaign stirred Kardashian West, who tweeted her followers to help Adam.
“It’s an honor to be here to accept the first ever Gift of Life Impact Award,” said Kardashian West. “I was first introduced to Adam’s story by my best friend Allison, whose son was in the same class as their boy. And once I heard his story, I just knew that I wanted to do something.”
“I made a simple tweet. Knowing that it could change someone’s life, that’s the easiest thing that I could possibly do,” she added. “I would do it a million times over. I was so overwhelmed and inspired by the over 10,000 people that joined the registry. I joined myself because my cousin CiCi, who’s battled cancer for 18 years, had a similar problem.”
Kardashian West said her cousin, who is of Armenian descent, also faced challenges finding a match. “So me and my family, we joined the registry. You never know when someone close to you can really need it, and you never know when you can just save someone’s life. It’s really such a simple thing to do, just to swab, and to be able to help someone in need.”
Lia Mantel Krief, Adam’s widow, presented Kardashian West with the award for leveraging the power of a single person to mobilize many to act.
“I remember sitting in the City of Hope Hospital room, in that chair, Adam on the computer, me on my phone, and he looks up and says, ‘you’re not going to believe this.’ And I said ‘what?’ And he says to me, ‘I think Kim K is in love with me.’ The outcry of support and kind words and possible donors just started flooding the gateways in such a short amount of time,” said Mantel Krief.
Though a match for Krief did not come in time, Kardashian West’s actions led to five donor-recipient matches and one transplant.
Meanwhile, another donor-recipient pair who were connected through the Hope4Adam campaign met at the gala and learned one another’s identities for the very first time. Tony Wolfe, 47, a former corrections officer from Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania., who battled Philadelphia Chromosome positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), met Alan Weinberg, 31, of Queens, New York, a fiscal officer for the borough president’s office. Wolfe received a life-saving stem cell transplant from Weinberg.
Also meeting face-to-face for the first time were Holly Chislow, 26, an Orangetheory fitness coach, of Medina, Ohio, who donated life-saving stem cells to Lola Ross, 8, of Carlisle, Kentucky, who had been battling Fanconi Anemia, an inherited blood disorder.
Gift of Life also presented the first-ever Steven Bochco Award, honoring the celebrated late TV writer and producer of such hits as “Hill Street Blues” and “L.A. Law,” who died at age 74 of complications from cancer. Bochco had originally battled leukemia and lived several years longer, after receiving a stem cell transplant from a Gift of Life donor.
In a stirring moment, Stephen Bochco’s widow, Dayna Bochco, of Los Angeles, and Jon Kayne, 27, of New York, who had donated stem cells to Bochco, presented the award to Eric Gurevich, 30, of Louisville, Kentucky, for exemplifying Bochco’s qualities: vision, innovation and storytelling. Gurevich had twice donated stem cells to save the life of L.A. Gala Chair Ron Dreben, 57, of Washington, D.C., who had battled Myelodysplastic Disorder.
Michal and Jeremie Braun of Los Angeles and Norma and Mark Citron of Calabasas also chaired the event.
Since its start in 1991, Gift of Life has grown the registry to more than 310,000 individuals who have volunteered to donate blood stem cells or bone marrow to save a life. In the process, Gift of Life has facilitated over 15,000 matches for those with a range of blood cancers, resulting in more than 3,300 transplants.