While celebrity singers, actors and athletes may get all the limelight, the movers and shakers standing behind these stars are rising to the occasion this Saturday to support cancer research.
As the city with the fourth-largest music industry in the country, Atlanta entertainment lawyers, bankers and other professionals representing the sports, media and music industries will head to the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead for the fourth annual Best Cellars Dinner to raise money for the T.J. Martell Foundation, a national nonprofit that raises funds and awareness for cancer, leukemia and HIV/AIDS research for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Georgia's only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.
More than 1,200 fine wines from cellars of 30 local wine connoisseurs will be the highlight of the evening, with some of this year’s local hosts including Jeff Goldworn, general manager of the Buckhead Club and Frank Ski, owner of Frank Ski’s Restaurant in Buckhead.
The evening will also feature gourmet cuisine, live music and auction items ranging from one-of-a-kind leather-pressed Zach Brown Band artwork to a guitar signed by Styx band members. The three previous dinners have raised a combined $2.5 million for cancer research.
Began by legendary music attorney Joel Katz, the dinner is largely supported by entertainment industry professionals, including Rasheed Muhammad, senior vice president for SunTrust’s Private Wealth Management Sports and Entertainment Specialty Group, who handles the finances for many of Atlanta’s high-profile celebrities. After failing to break into the music industry as a young performer, Muhammad mixed his love of music and his banking experience to build his company.
He said many of his family members have been affected by cancer, including his grandmother who died after a battle with ovarian cancer and his father, a prostate cancer survivor. He said the focus on research and finding a cure by is what drew him to the foundation.
“I’m really interested in doing anything I can to further the research, to help with any cures or any type of technology or medical advances,” he said.
Robert Polay, owner of Polay Financial Management and dinner co-chairman, has also supported the dinner for the last three years since shortly after his wife Susan died of cancer.
“It’s a wonderful way that I can honor my wife and what she suffered through and hopefully help with some breakthroughs,” Polay said of his involvement. “Winship is cutting edge and it has very low overhead [and] has high-impact results.”
Polay said the event is a refreshing take on the charity dinner and one that all of his colleagues particularly enjoy.
“At this event, everyone’s there and no one has a business hat on,” he said. “It’s a way people can be there and be present and really have a good time and enjoy the wonderful food and enjoy each other’s company.”
Lynn-Anne Huck, the foundation’s spokeswoman, said the powerful pockets of these local industry leaders help make great strides in cancer studies.
“They look mild-mannered, but they have sizzle,” she said of Polay and Muhammad and their industry connections. “The entertainment industry, as flashy as it is on the surface, in my opinion it’s a very low-key [field] and they just want to have a good time and meet new friends in the industry.”
If you go:
o What: Best Cellars Dinner
o When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
o Where: The Ritz-Carlton, 3434 Peachtree Road, Buckhead
o Benefits: T.J. Martell Foundation for cancer research
o Tickets: $800 per person or $7,000 per table
o Information: www.bestcellarsdinners.com