Happy, Sexy, Strong Women: Debbie Wilpon
For Ramy Brook, "Happy, Sexy, Strong!" goes far beyond the outfit. It's an inner light within women that propels them to achieve personal and professional successes, an inner light that comes from an innate love of life which attracts others to them. Ramy Brook celebrates these women, is inspired by and created for these women! So we wanted to put together a new series sharing just a few of these notable women whom we believe to truly embody "Happy, Sexy, and Strong!"
We are honored to begin this series with the Co-Chair of Project ALS, Debbie Wilpon. In conjunction with this feature, beginning May 19th through May 24th, 10% of all sales from Ramy Brook online will be donated to support ALS research.
Debbie recently sat down with us to give us a glimpse into the vast amount of work she has done with Project ALS, as well as to explain the organization's origin and mission.
Tell us a little bit about the history of Project ALS.
In 1998, Jenifer Estess was diagnosed with ALS at age 35. Jenifer was a theater producer in New York. Her doctor told her to max out her credit cards and travel because she had 2-5 years to live. She and her two sisters, Meredith and Valerie, found this unacceptable and formed Project ALS, a non-profit dedicated to finding a cure for ALS. Project ALS funds ALS research, bringing together scientists and doctors from multiple academic institutions, including Columbia, Harvard, and Cornell, to work collaboratively.
I am Co-Chairwoman of the Board of Project ALS. I joined in 2001 after going to a Project ALS event where I met Jenifer, who was in a wheelchair at the time. At the event, a video of Jenifer’s life was shown and I was devastated. How could this disease rob a young woman of her ability to move and speak? From that moment on, I’ve been full-force Project ALS. I am very passionate about it.
What is an important fact about ALS that our readers should know?
I think the most important fact is that by the year 2025, 1 in 25 Americans will be diagnosed with ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Huntington’s, all closely related brain diseases. It’s frightening that we will all know someone, and even love someone, who will be affected by these diseases.
Scientists and doctors have taken control of understanding heart, breast, and reproductive health, but the brain remains elusive. The brain is the next frontier and we must foster greater research and understanding in this field.
How do you inspire people to get involved with philanthropic organizations?
My philosophy is: if you can do it, do it.
Jenifer inspired me tremendously. After being diagnosed with ALS, she produced a movie, wrote a book, and created this unbelievable organization. Project ALS has raised over 75 million dollars for ALS research in our 19 years. And it was because of Jenifer. She did not live, but her memory inspires me. Every time I clip into a SoulCycle bike, I think ‘This is for Jenifer.’ You have to do what others cannot.
What is your fail-proof power outfit/look?
Black. Definitely black. Classic. Simple. Clean.
Since this is a series profiling women we believe to fit our brand motto of "Happy, Sexy, Strong", we wanted to do a quick rapid-fire word association with you
Sexy? Confidence, knowing yourself.
Strong? Women. We are so strong. We have to be strong. We push the world. And together I really believe that we are going to change the world. It’s our time. It’s time for a change.