A Night to Remember

The inaugural Nightcaps for Cancer benefit unites young professionals in support of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s brain cancer research.


Lauren Phelps, Sarah Littlejohn, Dr. Samuel Waxman and Marion Waxman


New York Fashion Week saw the September 10 debut of Nightcaps for Cancer, a stylish new benefit for the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s (SWCRF) brain cancer research programs. 

Event chairs Lauren Phelps, founder of the women’s fashion line Leona, and Sarah Littlejohn, CEO of the luxury costume jewelry brand OCIE New York, welcomed a fashionable crowd of young New York professionals to the affair, which was graciously hosted by Nancy Loving, Director of ArtPort Studios, the exclusive representative of American expressionist Harold Garde. The artist’s colorful creations provided a striking ambience for the gathering, which treated guests to delicious food by Elan, specialty drinks by Chopin and Empire Merchants North and music by special guest DJ Timo Weiland

Chef Joe Cipro and Jessica Mackin of The Independent

Phelps and Littlejohn were inspired to create the Nightcaps for Cancer fundraiser by their shared experience of losing relatives to brain cancer. Phelps’ mother Jonnie Fay Leonard passed away from the disease at the age of 48 while Littlejohn’s sister Liza Pope succumbed to brain cancer at 28. After meeting a year ago within fashion industry circles, the two became fast friends, drawn together by their love for design and their passion for helping science to find a brain cancer cure. 

To this end, Phelps and Littlejohn partnered with the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation to raise funds for the work of the foundation’s brain cancer research team: Albert S. Baldwin, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Kevan Shokat, Ph.D., and William Weiss, M.D., Ph.D., both of the University of California, San Francisco. Drs. Baldwin, Shokat and Weiss are collaborating on a project that aims to develop new drugs that target Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor by blocking the HER1 protein that provokes unregulated cell growth that leads to brain cancer. 

“The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation is grateful to Lauren Phelps, Sarah Littlejohn and their guests for supporting the work of our funded brain cancer scientists,” said Samuel Waxman, M.D., Founder and CEO of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. “We are inspired by their generosity and dedication and look forward to more collaborations with them to help advance brain cancer research.” 

Guest DJ Timo Weiland (photo: SWCRF)

Lauren Phelps, Sarah Littlejohn and the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation extend their heartfelt thanks to the many individuals and companies that donated their services and products in support of the fundraiser. Floral arrangements were courtesy of Buds of Brooklyn and Brian Offidani provided photography.  

The Nightcaps for Cancer silent auction included covetable items donated by Hunter Bell, Veronica Beard, Ellen Hunter, Waldrip, Lindsey Lane, Miller Mobley Photography, Chris Arlotta, Cielo Brands, Stephanie Higgs, Amy Pope, Kyle Cavan, Tory Burch, Lela Rose, Elizabeth Matin Lighting, Lindsey Cowles, Lionette Jewelry and The Four Seasons. 

The raffle included items provided by Tory Burch, Chris Arlotta, Il Mulino, NYC, Jade Hotel, Dream Dry, Elan, Gramercy Tavern, Westville, Medulla NYC and Rebecca Minkoff. 

Marion Waxman, Dr. Samuel Waxman and Nancy Loving

The VIP gift bag included high-end items and certificates from Oribe, Dream Dry, Moore Brothers, Artistic Cookies for Gift Bags, Birch Box, Collard Greens, Three Jane, Dean King, Lindsey Cowles, Cielo Styling Session, Medulla NYC and Empire Merchants North.

To view a gallery of photos from the event, click here.

Photos by Brian Offidani