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Brokers on the Cantor Fitzgerald trading floor in New York were joined by the likes of Bill Clinton, Alec Baldwin, Amber Heard, Common and more for this year’s fundraiser, which supports a range of causes — from medical relief for Syrian refugees to youth theater programs.
Founded in the aftermath of 9/11 and the firm’s loss of 658 employees, the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund has evolved from just supporting the victims’ families to now helping those facing emergencies and natural disasters as well as wounded military members.
“For others, the days and years have gone on,” Gayle King told The Hollywood Reporter. “But what I like most of all is that we never, ever forget. It’s so important to remind people what happened that day.”
Baldwin attended in support of the Brooke Jackman Foundation, an organization that promotes child literacy in honor of its namesake, who died in the 9/11 attacks. Though he’s been involved with the foundation since its inception, Baldwin said he’s never been able to attend the annual Charity Day to raise funds before. “This year, I said to myself, ‘I really need to do this,'” Baldwin said, citing the “incredible story” of Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick.
The executive lost his brother in the attack, and he only escaped his own death because he decided to take his son to his first day of school. Afterward, Lutnick notably appeared in a number of television interviews in which he sobbingly described the loss of hundreds of people he knew, and offered to financially support their family members.
“We needed to find a way to turn such a tough day into something beautiful,” Lutnick told THR.
To date, Charity Day has raised approximately $147 million. According to Lutnick, a portion of this year’s proceeds will go toward sending volunteers to Puerto Rico to assist with Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
The charity of Rosie Perez’s choice, HEART 9/11 (Healing Emergency Aid Response Team 9/11), will also benefit Puerto Rico. “Most people don’t understand the parallels between the number of deaths during that tragic day in New York City and the number of deaths as a result of Hurricane Maria,” Perez told THR.
“Puerto Ricans are American citizens and they should get the same treatment the residents of Texas did during Hurricane Harvey, and Florida during Irma,” Perez said, adding that HEART 9/11 has an initiative dedicated to Puerto Rico relief efforts. “What we can do is now move forward today, and try to help the residents of Puerto Rico rebuild — not only physically, but emotionally, spiritually and mentally.”
Other celebrities in attendance included Lucy Hale, Liev Schreiber, Dascha Polanco, Gene Simmons, Tony Danza, Melissa Rivers and Steve Schirripa.
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