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It started as a small cocktail party in the Liz Claiborne showroom 10 years ago. But the annual Heartworks gala, designed to raise funds for the awareness and research of Marfan Syndrome, now draws a packed house to Cipriani 42nd Street every year.
The architect of the successful fundraiser is Karen Murray, president of VF Sportswear, and former head of Claiborne’s men’s division, whose son Michael is afflicted with the connective tissue disorder. Murray was honored Thursday night for her tireless support of the cause, receiving a special Founder’s Award from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, honorary chairman of the dinner since 2002. Bloomberg recognized Murray for her “dedication, inspiration and brilliance” on behalf of Marfan patients.
In accepting her award, Murray thanked the doctors who diagnosed and treated her 18-year-old son, who, after successful aortic valve surgery, will enter the University of Maryland college this fall.
Murray then presented a Hero With a Heart award to Dr. Duke Cameron, the cardiac surgeon from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, who “literally touched the heart of my most prized possession.” Also honored at the event was Dr. Herbert Pardes of New York Presbyterian Hospital.
In its decade-long run, Heartworks has raised some $7 million for the National Marfan Foundation.