Diana Ross to perform at first Snow Ball Gala, fundraiser for pediatric-cancer research

Thomas Pierce said the success of the Aspen Snow Ball Committee's kick-off event last January encouraged them to go through with the gala Jan. 28.
Hal Williams Photography

For film producer Thomas Pierce, losing his best friend to cancer changed his perspective on everything.

“I think everyone is touched by cancer,” he said. “I lost my best friend to cancer. And, I was asked by Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research to get involved, and I realized the need for pediatric-cancer research and early-stage science research of progressive rehabilitative treatments that are less toxic. There is a strong need and a gap to fill.”

After several years of working alongside Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation founder Denise Rich, who has raised $40 million for pediatric research, Pierce became motivated to help during the pandemic. He realized that, because of the inability for foundations to host fundraisers due to COVID, many were struggling to stay afloat, thus causing research labs and human trials to shut down due to a lack of funding.

“I thought now’s the best time to double down, get serious, buckle up, and see what I can do to help make an impact,” he said.

One solution was to throw a black-tie fundraiser in Aspen to support Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research and launch the Children’s Oncology Support Fund. He recognized that while the Aspen community is very philanthropic, there wasn’t a large-scale fundraiser that brought the community together for pediatric-cancer research. 

“Aspen is a growing town of great importance, as we’ve seen in recent years,” he said. “So, why not bring the community together for this mission and do it on a New York scale?”

After testing the waters with a successful kickoff event in January 2022 and gaining local sponsorship from Scott Weber of the Weber-Boxer group, he decided to move forward with the winter gala this year.

The inaugural Snow Ball Gala will take place at the St. Regis on Jan. 28 and “transport guests to an immersive Narnia experience,” featuring a cocktail reception, silent auction, sit-down dinner, surprise musical appearances, and a special performance by Diana Ross.

The event will be hosted by Oscar winner and honorary chair Marcia Gay Harden, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation founder Denise Rich, and Pierce. It will honor local philanthropist Laura Calabrese Kruger with the Community Leadership Award for her work with The Shining Star Foundation.

The gala is nearly sold out, but they have released a limited number of after-party tickets at a lower price point to make the event accessible to more people.

“That ticket really is about the local community and getting younger people involved, as well,” Pierce said.  

After-party tickets grant access to the Aspen Snow Ball St. Regis ballroom from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. and will include an open bar and a special DJ set by Julia Sandstrom; $400 of the ticket is tax deductible, and all proceeds for the entire event will go to Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.

Pierce and his collaborators hope this will raise awareness of the need for alternative treatments for children battling cancer and also become an annual event that attracts philanthropists from around the world.

“Ultimately, it’s really about awareness and about making a dent to support groundbreaking research,” he said. “I think it’s important that people understand that there are families all over the world that are under-served and need access to these types of programs.”

If you go …

What: Snow Ball Gala, an annual fête for the fight against pediatric cancer
When: Jan. 28
Where: St. Regis Hotel, Aspen
More Info and Ball and After party Tickets:

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