T.J. asked Tony to raise $1 million for cancer research, but the New York executive with CBS Records (now Sony Records) had no fundraising experience. However, Tony followed through on the promise, starting the T.J. Martell Foundation for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. In its first event, with the help of musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, the organization raised $50,000, according to its website. Overall, it has collected $225 million, its website stated.
Five years ago, Atlantans who supported the foundation decided to start hosting the Best Cellars Dinner, a fundraiser already being held annually in Nashville and Houston. This year’s Atlanta event will take place Saturday at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead.
“We decided to do a wine dinner. … There has to be a local organization to support, and we chose the Emory [University] Winship Cancer Institute,” said Joel Katz, a wine enthusiast and past chair of the event who knows Tony Martell through his work as an entertainment lawyer representing musicians. “We’ve raised and donated over $250,000 to cancer research.”
Overall, the three annual dinners have raised $2.1 million for the foundation, Katz said.
Atlanta’s dinner salutes the city’s top wine collectors who come together on one special evening to highlight and share wine from their personal cellars. Each table will have a wine host.
The four-course dinner will be created by Art Smith, chef/owner of the InterContinental Hotel’s Southern Art restaurant and its executive chef, Anthony Gray. Smith is a two-time James Beard Award winner, Food Network TV personality and Iron Chef America tasting judge. The event also will include a musically inspired auction and live music.
Winship is Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center, providing advanced care for its patients. Dr. Bill Torres, a Buckhead resident and radiologist at Winship, is co-chairing this year’s event with Mary-Louise Kirchner and Don Perry. Torres said the foundation partners with cancer centers around the country.
“I believe in what the T.J. Martell Foundation is doing, in giving back,” he said. “Having been involved with Emory, I would not be involved with this event if it did not benefit the Winship Cancer Institute.”
Katz added, “The music business has been a very charitable industry. That is what music is about.”
If you go:
o What: Best Cellars Dinnern When: Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
o Where: InterContinental Hotel, 3315 Peachtree Road, Buckhead
o Benefits: T.J. Martell Foundation for cancer research
o Tickets: $650 per person or $6,000 per table
o Information: visit www.bestcellarsdinners.com