Actress Mariska Hargitay Awarded for Cancer Philanthropy

By: Emily Leaman

At least 500 people in Washington last night didn’t watch the Caps game: the attendees of the Rays of Hope Gala at the Mellon Auditorium. The annual event, hosted by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, was a gathering for survivors and advocacy organizations. It showcased the work of individuals who are making a difference in the fight against cancer.

The evening’s two honorees were Doug Ulman, a cancer survivor and founder of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, and actress Mariska Hargitay, who was awarded for her cancer philanthropy. Ulman was absent from the event—he’s traveling the globe with the Lance Armstrong Foundation—but Hargitay, who plays detective Olivia Benson on NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit, accepted her award in person. Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer, a cancer survivor, was the emcee.

As the evening’s sole Hollywood starlet, Hargitay took the stage last. She briefly talked about a friend who died of cancer last year, then segued into a more Washington-appropriate topic: President Barack Obama. Hargitay got choked up as she discussed the President’s “inner engine of hope” and ended her speech like any good politico: “God bless,” she said, waving to the crowd.

As she exited stage right, the house lights came on, signaling the evening’s end. The event wrapped up ahead of schedule at around 9:30.

All photographs by Chris Leaman

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