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Taylor Swift to be honored at Kennedy charity gala
Taylor Swift will be the youngest-ever recipient of the Ripple of Hope Award when she attends Monday night's New York City gala for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
In addition to raising money, the circumstances may raise a few eyebrows as well. In recent months, Swift dated and reportedly split from Bedford's Conor Kennedy, a nephew of Mount Kisco resident Kerry Kennedy, who's president of the RFK Center and overseeing the Dec. 3 event.
In an exclusive interview Friday with Newsday Westchester, Kerry Kennedy had nothing but glowing things to say about Swift.
"She's getting it because my father believed in the power of the youth," Kennedy said. "He described it in his Ripple of Hope speech, which this award is named after. He said, 'This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.' Here's a young woman — 22 years old — who has put herself out in the world, and in an incredibly powerful and strong way."
Kennedy said she was impressed by the way Swift donated $100,000 to relief programs following the Iowa floods of 2008, when she was still a teen; $500,000 to similar charities after flooding devastated Nashville two years later; and $750,000 to victims of last year's Alabama tornadoes. Kennedy also cited Swift's initiatives with Hope for Haiti, St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the Red Cross.
"On a more personal note, I think, in many ways, she's the kind of woman we all want our donors to be: somebody who's authentic, and mighty, and willing to take a risk, and strong enough to walk away when things don't go right," Kennedy said.
The RFK Center champions international human rights and social justice causes, and educates 500,000 students worldwide annually, according to Kennedy, who hopes to raise $2 million for the charity by the end of the gala.
Among the fellow celebrities expected to join Swift on Monday night are actors Dianna Agron, Antonio Banderas, Harry Belafonte, Lorraine Bracco, Matthew Broderick, Mia Farrow, Melanie Griffith, Charles Grodin, Dennis Haysbert, Kate Mulgrew, Gloria Reuben and Alfre Woodard; singer Harry Belafonte; and TV host Jerry Springer. Alec Baldwin will serve as master of ceremonies.
Although Bracco, a former Rockland County resident, is perhaps the lone celebrity of that bunch with a strong regional connection, the charity auction has more than a dozen Hudson Valley-related items up for public bid through Dec. 13. On Monday, the Hudson Buzz blog will take a deeper look at those auction items with local connections.
Which RFK Center auction item with a Hudson Valley connection would you want most?
Twelve-course dinner for 4 at Blue Hill in Stone Barns Day of falconing with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Bedford Baby guitar signed by Taylor Swift Meet Mary J. Blige at her concert Dinner with Chazz Palminteri Guitar signed by Red Hot Chili Peppers Lunch with Henry Winkler and a collection of his signed books Phish concert seats in executive suite of Madison Square Garden Meet Matthew Broderick backstage after seeing "Nice Work if You Can Get it" Meet Bill O'Reilly after attending "The O'Reilly Factor" Meet Matt Lauer and get an exclusive tour of "Today" Meet Patti LuPone and Debra Winger backstage after attending "The Anarchist" Attend a speech by President Bill Clinton and get a picture taken with him