Nancy Davis is unstoppable. She’s always on the frontlines, and this past Friday she was front and center on the stage and on the inflatable big screen at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for her “Drive -In Race to Erase MS” event.
Even after suffering the unimaginable — her beloved son Jason died of a pulmonary embolism this past February (the event was dedicated to him) — Nancy still is out there through her tears and with a smile on her face. Nancy’s energy in her steps has never waned as she’s been fighting for decades with her “Race to Erase” gala, which is a celebrated yearly event that benefits MS research and her Center Without Walls program and other MS centers that all work together to find a cure.
Nancy herself was diagnosed with MS in her early thirties. The event is usually a celebrated staple at the Beverly Hilton, but this most recent event was COVID-19 careful complete with multiple inflatable huge screens, a catered dinner by Craig’s and gift bags that were put in your car when you got there, along with the orange carpet. Guests stayed in their cars and flashed their lights and honked their horns as pseudo applause.
Nancy’s friend, actress Anne Heche, introduced her as “The Queen of Peace and Love” which coincidentally is the name of Nancy’s successful jewelry line. The event featured a virtual Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive Collection for the Fall 2020 aimed at people with disabilities. Performers included Siedah Garrett (she also has MS) who she sang her famous Michael Jackson collaboration “Man in the Mirror,” and an original song, “The New Frontier: Say Their Names.” Eric Benet sang “Georgy Porgy” and more, and Andy Grammer had a fun set including his signature hit, “Keep Your Head Up.”
Other presenters and celebs attending where Marg Helgenberger, Derek Hough, NY Yankee great Dave Winfield, Loni Love, Victoria Justice, Xochitl Gomez, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Pia Toscano, Lucy Hale, and more.
Every year one of the most touching moments in an evening filled with poignancy is a performance of Bill Withers’s hit, “Lean On Me.” This year was a video look back on the song with performers including Nancy’s dear friend the late Natalie Cole, Stevie Wonder, The Eagles and so many more.
The Davis family has long been a philanthropic to many causes, led by the indefatigable and wonderful matriarch Barbara Davis. Barbara has certainly taught her children well. In honor of that work, the first ever Jason Davis Scholarship was announced, going to an individual who is struggling with MS, in conjunction with substance abuse and/or depression. Nancy’s lovely daughters, Mariella and Isabella Rickel accepted the posthumous honor for their loved late brother. Nancy’s devoted husband, respected entrepreneur Ken Rickel was by their side. “Drive-In To Erase MS” 2020 Live Gala honoring Jason Davis raised over $1.4 million dollars. Nancy Davis is a treasure in a troubled time who reminds us daily to step up, step out and give back.