Bloomberg News

Oscar Aids Kids With Cancer; Lawmaker Blues: D.C.Scene

February 14, 2013

Tracy's Kids Fundraiser

Matt Gerson, the executive vice president for public policy and government relations at Universal Music Group, Melissa Maxfield, senior vice president of federal government affairs at Comcast, and Comcast's executive vice president, David Cohen. Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

From the red carpet at the entrance to the screening of nominated films, the fundraiser had an Oscar theme.

Matthew Gerson, a cancer survivor and the executive vice president for public policy and government relations at Universal Music Group Inc., used his contacts to corral the movies.

The party was for Tracy’s Kids, an organization started by Gerson to introduce children with cancer and blood diseases to the healing effects of art therapy.

Among the screenings, Gerson was planning to check out “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” as was Congressman Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican.

Congressman Bob Latta, an Ohio Republican, was vacillating between “Argo” and “Les Miserables,” if he could convince his wife to see it again.

Gerson met Tracy Councill, the charity’s namesake, in early 1998 at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center. He had been diagnosed at age 10 with a malignant tumor and recalled that the psychological agony of his illness and being separated from his friends were more painful than the disease.

He became intrigued with a program Councill developed to ease the suffering of young patients via drawing, painting, writing and acting exercises. Gerson decided to expand the model.

Today, besides Georgetown, Tracy’s Kids operates centers at three Washington-area facilities -- Children’s National Medical Center, Children’s Fairfax Clinic, Inova Fairfax Hospital -- and Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio.

Gerson and Councill were on hand last night to honor David Camp, a Republican congressman from Michigan, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin large B-cell lymphoma last year and as of December is cancer-free.

Courage Award

Camp received the charity’s eighth annual Courage Award for going public with his battle. Previous recipients include cancer survivor Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican and presidential candidate.

The event raised $450,000. Comcast Corp. was the major sponsor and was represented by David Cohen, executive vice president, and Melissa Maxfield, senior vice president of congressional and federal government affairs.

Richard Nash, head of government relations in the U.S., Canada and Latin America for EBay Inc. (EBAY:US), and Stacy Fuller, vice president of regulatory affairs for DirecTV (DTV:US), also gave their support.

Nash and his EBay co-worker Usman Ahmed, the company’s policy counsel, were gearing up for “Zero Dark Thirty,” a major contender for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this month.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat, was there with his wife, Marcelle, a melanoma survivor, a nurse and a Tracy’s Kids board member.

Fun Side

Across town at Charlie Palmer Steak, new members of congress and their staff members were getting a welcome party organized by Event Farm.

The online service, which processes RSVPs and payments for events, has been hosting the welcome party every two years for a decade.

Susan Brooks, newly installed as a representative from Indiana’s fifth district, learned about the fun side of her new job as the party boasted a dance floor, live blues band and plenty of sweets and savory treats, like a mashed potato bar.

She talked with the event’s host, Ryan Costello, Event Farm’s co-founder and chief executive officer, and David Pryor, the director of federal government affairs for Microsoft Corp (MSFT:US).

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Jason Harper on cars, Elin McCoy on wine.

To contact the writer on this story: Stephanie Green in Washington at sgreen57@bloomberg.net or on Twitter @stephlgreen.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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