Nancy Davis and Flo Rida; photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS
"Thirty-one years ago, I was diagnosed with MS," said Nancy Davis from the podium at Fairmont Century Plaza—where multiple sclerosis patients, doctors and starry supporters, such as Evan Ross, Ashlee Simpson, Alessandra Ambrosio, AnnaLynne McCord, Denise Richards, Elisabeth Rohm and Katie Cassidy, gathered on Friday, June 2. "The doctors said, 'Go home and go to bed.' That I would never walk again or be able to take care of my children. Finding a cure or even managing the disease was unrealistic. At that moment, all I had was hope."
Nancy Davis; photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS
Founder Davis speaking at the 30th annual Race to Erase MS gala
Instead of singing a song of defeat, Davis set out on an impossible quest and founded Race to Erase MS in 1993 with the goal of eradicating the disease. At the time, there was no known cause, cure or drug on the market for MS. But when she realized that doctors at the time were unknowingly working on identical research, she opened up the lines of communication and assembled a team of top experts. "Together, we have done what others thought was impossible," said Davis, whose organization has raised more than $50 million for multiple sclerosis research. "There are now 25 drugs on the market to help stop the progression of MS." Race to Erase MS conducted the pilot studies for 18 of them.
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS
After an extensive silent auction and a Cinq a Sept fashion show, Davis recognized 30 honorees for their longtime support at Race to Erase MS' 30th anniversary gala. Through the years, the hip event has featured fashion shows from Tommy Hilfiger and Alice + Olivia, celebrity honorees like Jack Osbourne and Selma Blair, and performers from Steven Tyler to Elton John. This year's guests enjoyed a three-course meal and performance by Siedah Garrett before Ross took the stage.
Cinq a Sept fashion show; photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS
Alessandra Ambrosio, Lucilda Ambrosio, and Milan Blagojevic; photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS
"Right now, everybody's ready for some amazing music—I'm sure all of you will be on your feet," Ross said. "I'm excited to present my friend for many years, the incredible Grammy-nominted Flo Rida!" The energetic performer—back by popular demand after appearing two times prior—burst out and had the crowd jumping to hits like "Good Feeling," "Club Can't Handle Me" and "I Cry." A bevy of women joined him on stage for "Low," and he called Davis up for "My House"—during which the two sprayed bottles of champagne.
Evan Ross, Ashlee Simpson Ross and Hilary Shor; photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS
"We love you Nancy," a champagne-soaked Flo Rida had the crowd chant to the hostess after the number. The sentiment was pervasive.
Flo Rida; photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS
Nancy Davis and Flo Rida; photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS
Flo Rida and Davis spray the crowd with champagne
Click here to read more about Nancy Davis' story and Race to Erase MS.