Third Annual Derby Day Fundraiser benefiting TESS Research Foundation

Third Annual Derby Day Fundraiser benefiting TESS Research Foundation

May 4, 2024

A little rain couldn’t keep the TESS community from coming together, dressed to the nines with fascinators and bow ties on Saturday, May 4, to raise more than $200,000 for scientific research and family support programs! The event was held in Celeste McDonnell’s beautiful Atherton garden and more than 180 guests attended the third annual Derby Day Fundraiser benefiting TESS Research Foundation. TESS is especially close to Celeste’s heart, as two of her grandchildren – TESS Superheroes Colton and Tessa – have SLC13A5 Epilepsy.

Speakers included Kim Nye, TESS executive director and mother to four children, including Tessa and Colton. Kim and her husband Zach founded TESS Research Foundation in 2015; TESS is the only organization worldwide dedicated to finding treatments for and supporting families affected by SLC13A5 Epilepsy, a rare genetic neurological disorder whose symptoms include thousands of seizures beginning at birth, a movement disorder, and the ability to understand language but speak only a few words. 

The event was emceed by Michael Black, vice chair of the TESS Board of Directors and father to Superhero Rowan. But it was Tessa and Colton’s 14-year-old sister Maggie who brought the house down with her live version of Fight Song, set to a video montage of images of children and young adults with SLC13A5 Epilepsy. 

Guests were treated to sushi appetizers generously provided by Palo Alto’s newly opened Sushi Roku and made-to-order tacos from El Buen Taco, and gave a nod to the southern spirit with mint juleps, aperol spritzes, and sweet tea. The day’s festivities included a Surprise Box game featuring a 37-carat blue topaz and diamond ring; a silent auction with products and services from local restaurants, wineries, and businesses, including 10 works of art donated by Stephanie Breitbard Fine Arts Gallery in Menlo Park; a live auction touting Louboutin pumps, an exclusive tasting at Promontory winery, and Spain package that included two business-class tickets and a weekend stay at Nobu Barcelona; a Fund-a-Future paddle raise; and a live viewing of the 150th Kentucky Derby! 

Thanks to the TESS Host Committee extraordinaire: Atherton residents Celeste McDonnell; Courtney and Adam Alberti, Cat and Pau Gasol; Paula Gani Noah and Kim and Lee Scheuer from Portola Valley; and Kim and Zach Nye from Menlo Park. 

Special thanks to our Honorary Committee: Julie and Jibb Brady; Carol and Steve Brock; Dani Gasparini and Alyn Beals; Kelly and Bill Griggs; Daniel Lowenstein, MD; Laurel and Steve Miranda; Brenda Porter, MD, PhD and Ben Hsu, MD, PhD; Kevin McDonnell; Emmalyn and Art Shaw; and Missy and Tom Whitenight.

Watch our video that captured the spirit of the day!