​​​​​The Bay Area Lyme Foundation's Annual LymeAid Gala held at a beautiful landscaped home at a private residence in ​Portola Valley, California on Saturday, September 18, 2021. The year 2020 has been a year which put the world on stand-by pausing every day-to-day life activities but also medical and research advancements which holds an array of small to large fundraiser events raising money for research and to find a cure for many diseases. This year things seem to be coming back on track, and although the 2020 LymeAid Gala was postponed, it truly was back in full swing in 2021.

It was a crisp evening in the Portola Valley region of Northern California just south of San Francisco, north of San Jose and adjacent to Palo Alto in California.  The mission, to attend and cover a wonderful event raising money to support and find a cure for the tick-borne Lyme disease; one of the many auto-immune diseases which millions of people battle every day of their lives to live as normal as possible. 

The evening began with cocktail hour where guests enjoyed an array of hors-d'houvres, wine and cocktails as well as mingling with one another. Other special VIP guests were being interviewed by different press members coming from the East and West Coast for full coverage. Even with smaller number of guests allowed per social distancing, the event was a full house and success raising $650,000 which 100% goes to fund scientific research, education and prevention programs for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection diagnosed in nearly half a million Americans each year.

This years' Master of Ceremonies was none other than Emmy-award winning comedian Dana Carvey, whom received a standing ovation for his live performance, his first in 20 months since the Covid-19 pandemic. As the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Carvey led a very funny and successful live fundraiser energizing the crowd ready to listen to the next musical act Pop Rocks. The band Pop Rocks featured Mark McGrath aka Sugar Ray as their lead singer and delivered an outstanding show that got everyone out of their seats and into the dance floor dancing to his popular songs such as Every Morning, Someday, and I just Wanna Fly as well as other popular classics such as the Beastie Boys' (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) .

A leading U.S. expert on COVID-19 Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco presented insights and research related to the similarities between COVID-19 and Lyme disease, including the difficulties in diagnosing each disease. Guests were in awe as they learned about the highlights of similarities between Covid-19 and Lyme disease presented by Charles Chiu.

Attendees rallied to support the research efforts initiated by the late Neil Spector, MD, of Duke University to identify effective diagnostics and therapeutics for multiple stages of Lyme disease, based on learnings from his renowned oncology research and with funding from Bay Area Lyme Foundation. Wendy Adams, Research Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation presented information about this study, which is currently led by Timothy Haystead, PhD of Duke and involves Monica E. Embers, PhD of Tulane University.

“You could feel the energy from attendees. Everyone is excited about the progress that is being made – and thrilled to be in person to exchange ideas, hear updates on the research and enjoy each other’s company,” remarked Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation of this year’s LymeAid. The event was held outside at a private residence with a number of COVID precautions put in place, and many also attended virtually. 

The event honored the immense contributions of Laure Woods for her work encouraging Lyme research and education. Woods is one of the founders of Bay Area Lyme Foundation and founder of the LaureL Foundation which covers overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. Feel free to see my exclusive interview below were I was able to obtain from her just as dinner commenced. 

George Dempsey, MD, was presented with this year’s Courage Award for his work in assisting with the initiation of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Lyme Disease Biobank. The past courage award winners are Nicole Malachowski and Dana Parish. This year, signed copy of Dana’s book, Chronic, co-authored with Steven Phillips, MD, were handed out to attendees.

A few more interviews we were able to do during the evening are below for you to see including our interview with George Dempsey, MD and Brandi Dean both activist and founder of the Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness in Boston.

Keep scrolling down to see performances by Pop Rocks lead by singer Mark McGrath aka Sugar Ray!!!

During the event, the Bay Area Lyme Foundation also honored the recipients of the 2021 Emerging Leader Awards (ELA), grants designed to be a catalyst for future research: Michael P. Rout, PhD of The Rockefeller University, who was awarded a $250,000 grant for his work with nanobodies to develop a sensitive point-of-care diagnostic; and Brandon Jutras, PhD of Virginia Tech, who was awarded $100,000 toward the development of a novel direct-detection diagnostic approach for Lyme disease. 

Several other researchers attended the event including Bay Area Lyme Foundation Scientific Advisory Board members Charles Chiu, MD, PhD of UCSF, Monica Embers, PhD of Tulane University, Christine Greene, MD, Dan Salkeld, PhD of Colorado State University, and Sunjya K. Schweig, MD. 2020 ELA grant award Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD of Texas A&M University also attended. Carolyn Margiotti, Kathleen O’Rourke, Julia Shaw, Kirsten Stein, and Laure Woods are the chairs of LymeAid 2021. 

Honorary hosts included: Wendy Adams, Phyllis and Scott Bedford, Chris Buja, Bonnie Crater, Malcolm and Emily Fairbairn, Linda and Nick Giampa, Ally Hilfiger, Arlene Inch, Jane and Bert Inch, Scott Johnson, Lucy and Davorn Kuchan, Gretchen and Jim Mair, Eileen and Gary Morgenthaler, Susan and Gib Myers, Dana Parish, Project Lyme, Richard Redelfs, Pete Rukavina, The Sheridan Family, Jennie Savage and Josh Stein.

Platinum event sponsors were Quidel Corporation and Salesforce; Gold event sponsors included The Phoenix Collection, Whittier Trust; and Silver event sponsors included TickTock Naturals, Sawyer, LymeTV, Tepozán Tequila, GPS Connections, Thor Audio Solutions, Wyld Renaissance


About Lyme Disease:

The most common vector-borne infectious disease in the country, Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick to people and pets. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it is commonly misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness and unreliable diagnostic tests. There are nearly 500,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to the most recent CDC statistics. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, more than two million Americans may be suffering from the impact of its debilitating long-term symptoms and complications, according to Bay Area Lyme Foundation estimates.

About Bay Area Lyme Foundation:

Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is the leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US. A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme Foundation collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge. A pivotal donation from The LaureL Foundation covers overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, visit www.bayarealyme.org or call us at 650-530-2439.

Photos courtesy of :

LUXXELIVING and Drew Altizer

 Exclusive coverage by: Yerelyn Cortez Hidalgo

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

​LymeAid Fundraiser Gala 2021

Benefiting The Bay Area Lyme Foundation

held at a Private Residence in Portola Valley, California on Saturday, September 18, 2021