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The Washington Diplomat

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Italy Hosts Prevent Cancer Gala

by Gail Scott

It was fortuitous timing for Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero and his wife Laura Denise to sponsor the 2013 Prevent Cancer Foundation's Annual Spring Gala on March 8 — the same day as La Festa Della Donna in Italy, known in English as International Women's Day, when all women are celebrated.

Photos: Gail Scott

From left, Diane Jones, wife of former National Security Advisor James Jones; Carolyn "Bo" Aldigé, president and founder of the Prevent Cancer Foundation; former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.); and honorary patron Laura Denise Bisogniero, wife of the Italian ambassador, attend the Prevent Cancer Foundation's 19th Annual Spring Gala, where Tauscher, a survivor of esophageal cancer, was given the Cancer Champion Award.

At the glittering black-tie event held at the National Building Museum, the affable ambassador made sure everyone knew that March 8 at home was Italy's International Women's Day. "Italian men celebrate the occasion with the traditional gift-giving of yellow mimosas to Italian women," said Bisogniero, who has lent his name to a large number of charitable events since coming to Washington in early 2012 (also see "Social Butterflies: Italian Embassy Partners With Big Events for Good Causes" in the March 2013 issue of The Washington Diplomat).

Many ambassadors and their spouses turned out for the 2013 Prevent Cancer Foundation's Annual Spring Gala, including, from left: Ambassador of Belgium and Mrs. Jan Matthysen; Ambassador of Italy and honorary patron Claudio Bisogniero; Mrs. and Ambassador of Russia Sergey I. Kislyak; wife of the Italian ambassador Laura Denise Bisogniero; Ambassador of Monaco and Mrs. Gilles Noghès; Mrs. and Ambassador of Switzerland Manuel Sager; wife of the Indonesian ambassador Rosa Rai Djalal; and wife of the Azerbaijani ambassador Lala Abdurahimova.

And in a nod to the Bella Donna holiday, the table arrangements at the 19th annual Prevent Cancer gala featured mimosas.

In addition to toasting women, the foundation's founder and president, Carolyn "Bo" Aldigé, also celebrated the incredible support she and her team have received over the past 28 years.

"Thank you to all who have helped us become a leader in cancer prevention and early detection, investing over $130 million in life-saving research, education, advocacy and community outreach programs," said Aldigé, who founded the organization in 1985 a year after her father succumbed to cancer.

Ambassador of Italy Claudio Bisogniero and his wife Laura Denise Bisogniero, center, the evening's honorary patrons, welcome Rear Adm. Susan Blumenthal, left, and Marie Royce, wife of the Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.,) chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to the Prevent Cancer Foundation's 19th Annual Spring Gala hosted by the Bisognieros.

Today, the Prevent Cancer Foundation is the only U.S. nonprofit organization solely devoted to cancer prevention and early detection. And the group's annual spring gala is a major source of funds, raising some $20 million over the years to support cancer research and direct service programs to medically underserved communities.

Along with the hefty congressional committees, ambassadors have participated by taking turns sponsoring the spring gala for the last 19 years. In addition, they offer silent auction diplomatic dinners and lunches to raise the tab. And most important, in increasing numbers, diplomats have shown up and spoken on the issue from a personal perspective, since some are cancer survivors themselves.

President of the Prevent Cancer Foundation Carolyn "Bo" Aldigé, center, welcomes 2011 gala patrons Ambassador of Monaco Gilles Noghés and his wife Ellen, a breast cancer survivor, to the group's 2013 Spring Gala held at the National Building Museum.

The 2011 diplomatic patrons were Ambassador of Monaco Gilles Noghés and his wife Ellen, a breast cancer survivor. The 2012 gala was sponsored by Swiss Ambassador Manuel Sager and his wife Christine, whose embassy helped bring in traditional long mountain horns and native Swiss dress to wow guests for the 2012 gala.

David Tutera, a celebrity wedding planner and second-generation Italian American, planned the elaborate décor for this year's event.

Emphasizing how the whole world must fight cancer and help those who can't help themselves, Ambassador Bisogniero spoke specifically about "health diplomacy."

From left, Ambassador of Belgium and Mrs. Jan Matthysen join wife of the Indonesian ambassador Rosa Rai Djalal at the Prevent Cancer Foundation's 19th Annual Spring Gala, whose theme, La Festa Della Donna, celebrated women's rights across the world.

"Cancer has joined the group of poverty-related diseases being even more devastating given its chronic impact," he told the audience. "We are proud to join forces with the foundation in making resources available to further strengthen the fight against cancer at all levels, focusing on the poor, vulnerable and deprived groups in our societies who cannot otherwise afford care."

Former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) was given this year's Cancer Champion Award, presented to her by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who praised Tauscher for her cancer battle and everything else she has fought for during a long public service career to benefit the country.

Tauscher revealed that she had esophageal cancer in July 2010 while she was President Obama's undersecretary of state for arms control; she has since made a full recovery.

Currently, Tauscher is a strategic advisor for Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz. At the beginning of her career, she spent 14 years working on Wall Street and was one of the first and youngest women to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, later serving as an officer of the American Stock Exchange.

Swiss Ambassador Manuel Sager and his wife Christine were the 2012 diplomatic hosts of the Prevent Cancer Foundation's Annual Spring Gala.

About the Author

Gail Scott is a contributing writer for the Washington Diplomat and the Diplomatic Pouch.



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