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Victoria’s Secrets: A week of pride and gratitude

Apr. 30, 2023 By Victoria Schneps

Spring is my favorite time of the year with nature bursting out all around us. Tulips and daffodils bring brilliant color into our lives and the skeletons of graceful trees are now bursting with blooms with brilliant green leaves.

Meanwhile, I was bursting with joy, first at our Manhattan Power List event and then on Saturday, when I was recognized by the grassroots group RVC Blue Speaks that benefits people on the autism spectrum.

There is something magical about Bryant Park Grill, which is set in the beautifully restored park. We took over the restaurant for our event and were seated in the ballroom that has glass walls and a clear roof. I felt like I was really in the park and not in a room.

Josh and I at the Power List event.

It was a great gathering of several old friends and many new ones as I welcomed the honorees upon their arrival for the “Power Hour” to introduce themselves to each other. 

The distinguished, diverse and enormously successful men and women shared their stories with each other. 

From Carmen Hernandez from the Bronx Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to Thomas Yu from the Asian Americans for Equality, to William Villanova from the famous Frank E. Campbell – The Funeral Chapel of New York City to President and Chairman of the Board of Community Care Rx Hossam Maksoud to finally meeting Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, it was truly a remarkable evening filled with powerful people. 

Cheryl with honoree Hossam Maksoud

Cheryl with honoree William Villanova.

I was delighted to learn about CUNY Guttman Community College in Manhattan, a new school led by the charismatic President Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson “working” the red carpet.

Our brilliant DJ Mike from Bravo Sound created music relevant to each honoree as they joyously walked, danced and pranced down the red carpet to receive their “Vicki” statue from me and my co-host Cheryl Wills, an old friend, author and much admired Emmy award-winning broadcaster for NY1. We had such fun seeing the joy on each of the honoree’s faces.

With Cheryl Wills (NY1) and Manhattan BP Mark Levine

New guests to our “Power” events — which are the “ultimate networking events” — were delighted and in awe to experience the fun we all had meeting each other.

Frances Kweller, who is CEO of Kweller Prep Tutoring and Educational Services, was overwhelmingly grateful to finally meet BP Mark Levine! That is what our events are all about!

Our team of Demetra, Toni, Joseph and Josh hit the event out of the park! I was bursting with pride in my team and the joyous honorees.

Then, on Saturday night, a group of friends wanting to help people who are on the autism spectrum led by Tony Cancellieri honored me!

With (l. to r.) Mary Lou and Tony Cancellieri, Joan MacNaughton and John Cameron

Several years ago, friend and colleague Joan MacNaughton introduced me to Tony — whose grandson was diagnosed with autism at an early age — and we immediately bonded. 

When my daughter Lara was found to have suffered brain damage at birth and I sought help, I too, turned to my friends and family and created what is now Life’s WORC beginning in my living room. 

Tony, with the help of friends and family, created RVC Blue Speaks in his living room. The organization has grown exponentially ever since. They filled the ballroom of Coral House in Baldwin for their Light It Up Blue Gala for Autism.

I burst with pride and gratitude as I accepted the influential fundraising group’s recognition.

It was my friends and family that lifted me during the challenging days of my search for help for my Lara. And it was so impressive to see how Tony and his wife have gathered their friends and family to help their grandchild and then hundreds more with the funds they raised.

That evening, they broke their fundraising record and raised more than $450,000!

Juliana Terian with her Rallye BMW team

But I reminded the sold out ballroom that we are in a lifetime war to get our children the help they need. I asked each person in the room (and I ask you, too) to call their state senator and assembly members to remind them that as the state budget gets finalized, we need an increase of funds for services for our special needs children.

Sadly the war never ends to assure each child gets the services they need.

It was a night of family and friends supporting the cause and happily raising money that will go to groups that provide services to people with autism — including Life’s WORC! Hooray!

So, during this whirlwind week, I had many reasons to be bursting with pride and gratitude!

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