Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will be this year’s featured performer at Musical Moments, an annual benefit concert for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society spearheaded by New Jersey philanthropists Murray and Lee Kushner.
Lee Kushner, who was diagnosed with MS in the mid-1990s, has chaired the event since 1998, raising nearly $9 million so far. This year’s goal is $1 million, and despite the recession, Kushner said she thinks they’ll hit $1.5 million.
“It’s much harder to raise money this year, but the big givers have really stepped up,” she said. “MS is MS and it’s not going away. People are still very helpful. They want to find a cure.”
Kushner gives plenty of credit for this year’s success to her husband, an attorney and real estate developer. “He’s spent hours and hours shmoozing on the phone,” she said. “It’s hard to ask for money.”
In remission for 13 years, she said of her health, “I am perfect. I work out every week, and I’m lifting 15-pound weights with each arm — I’m just so lucky.”
The Kushners are both looking forward to the performance by Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, which has found a new audience as the subject of the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys. Asked if she has any personal connection to Valli, Kushner laughed and said, “No, just double dating in the back seat of a car at the drive-in!”
Musical Moments supports the National MS Society’s research programs as well as statewide MS centers and wellness programs. Some of the critical National MS Society research being funded through Musical Moments is being conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
The concert will take place on Wednesday evening, Nov. 4, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. A VIP reception begins at 6 p.m., the concert at 7:30.
Tickets cost $23-$68; sponsorship packages start at $500. To purchase individual tickets, call the NJPAC box office at 888-GONJPAC. For more information about sponsorships, call 908-781-8418.