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The New York Comedy Festival's Stand Up For Heroes Benefit for the Bob Woodruff Family Fund at Town Hall in New York, New York.
Stand Up for Heroes, A Benefit for The Bob Woodruff Family Fund In partnership with The New York Comedy Festival. -- By: Sara Herbert-Galloway: Nov. 7th, 2007. New York City. It was both a heartfelt and star-studded celebrity filled evening at The New York Comedy Festival (NYCF) partnered with The Bob Woodruff Family Fund (BWFF). The true stars of the evening were our nation’s service men and women returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundred’s of service members attended Stand Up for Heroes, first ever benefit that took place at New York’s Historic Town Hall. On this momentous occasion civilians from all walks of society, media, entertainment, sports, fashion, finance, philanthropy, and health care industries joined forces with our nation’s heroes from the US Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, to pay tribute, and to support and raise awareness for our nation’s injured service members. The message was loud and clear, “We are here to Support the Heroes who have supported our nation. We Salute You!” While greeting the audience, Bob Woodruff joined by his wife Lee said, “This is not a political cause. Left, right, and center, no matter how you feel about this war, this is all about how we treat the wounded right here when they return.” NBC’s Conan O’Brien hosted the evening’s festivities. Others contributing the ‘healing power of humor’ were Lewis Black, Brian Regan and Academy award winning actor and comedian Robin Williams. The ‘Boss’, Bruce Springsteen added the ‘healing power of music’ by performing some songs, with harmonica and guitar, one of which was Thunder Road. Bruce added the real rumble of thunder to the evening when he briefly started (against the Sotheby’s auctioneer’s plea) his chrome and white 1991 Harley Davidson Fat Boy that he donated for the live auction, proving to the audience that it was indeed Born to Run. Imagine the thunderous applause from the crowd when the motorcycle fetched $85,000 for the BWFF! Another thrill came when an announcement was made that Helen K. Persson of Palm Beach, an 89 year old former Navy Nurse from WWII who took care of the wounded in the South Pacific, donated $1,000,000. Mrs. Persson and her late husband, Mr. A. Theodore Persson share Bob and Lee Woodruff’s alma mater, Colgate University. Rene Bardorf, said, “As the Executive Director of the BWFF and the wife of an active duty Marine, I am enormously grateful for Mrs. Persson’s support of our wounded and their families”. Adding, “Mrs. Persson wishes to treat all service members and their families as if they are her own family”. The fundraising part of the evening was a great success and it is just the beginning, the first step on the road to recovery. There is also an online auction for the BWFF at www.charityfolks.com/woodruff that ends on Nov. 20th. ABC co-anchor of World News Tonight, Bob Woodruff and camera man Doug Vogt were nearly killed in 2006 when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded. Bob was the first American news anchor to be wounded in a war zone. Both men suffered Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) the signature injury of the Iraq war. Bob and Doug are lucky to be alive. Bob and Lee realize that they have been blessed. They are grateful to ABC News for generously providing Bob with unlimited medical care and rehabilitation. They are also aware that others injured in the war have not been as fortunate. Bob and his family created the Fund to assist service members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan and to raise public awareness about TBI and combat stress injuries, including post–traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The BWFF was established in Feb. 2007. The Woodruff Family felt compelled to give back to the many service members and their families who have sacrificed so much. Dave Woodruff, chairman of the Fund and one of Bob’s three brothers said, “People talk about giving to charity. We are supporting volunteers who have come back injured. It is a duty, not a charity.” By organizing Stand Up for Heroes with the NYCF, the BWFF is raising not merely funds but, awareness of the long, and in some cases, endless road to recovery with which so many of our soldiers and their families are faced. After attending an intimate VIP cocktail reception at ABC’s Good Morning America some of the celebrities in attendance, Brian Williams, Joe Torre, James Gandolfini, Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Caroline Hirsch and Andrew Fox (producers of the NYCF), and the evenings entertainers walked down the red carpet with members of The United States Armed Forces. The evening opened with a moment of silence honoring members of the Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice. This moving moment continued with bagpipes, The National Anthem, Taps, and Amazing Grace played by The Marine Corps Band. Bob and Lee Woodruff said the event was, “a way to give back to those who have given so much”. Conan O’Brien joked, “Bob Woodruff was hit in the head with an IED and is still the best looking man in the room, in fact, I think he got better looking!” Lee Woodruff interjected humor about Bob’s recovery process recalling when Bob called the Verizon repairman the Viagra man. She said, “I’m the only wife who can say my husband has rocks in his head and really mean it!” Bob and Lee spoke of Bob’s sense of humor being the first thing to return after his near fatal injuries. The benefit was described as an evening of laughter, tribute and gratitude. It was an honor to be in attendance. Town Hall was filled with emotion, hope and indomitable will. The emotion and awareness of the reality and consequence of combat, hope for the future and the will of the Woodruff family and supporters to fulfill their mission to help injured veterans. The over whelming generosity and outpouring support showed that people care deeply and want to help. The smiles on some of the service members faces as they exited Town Hall made it obvious that the message was delivered to them as well. Bob and Lee published a book called, In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing. I believe the power and presence of love and healing were felt by everyone in attendance. To learn more about The New York Comedy Festival sponsored by Caroline Hirsch of Caroline’s on Broadway, Andrew Fox, Louis Faranda, and Jeff Ross go to www.nycomedyfestival.com. The Bob Woodruff Fund works with private industry and government to develop public awareness and excellence in research, education, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support and resources for the injured and their families as they reintegrate to duty or civilian life. Proceeds from the evening and on line auction go to the BWFF. For more information please visit the Fund’s website: www.bobwoodrufffamilyfund.org. -- By: Sara Herbert-GallowayRead More