The veteran music exec has raised $270 million in his son’s name.
Forty years ago, Tony Martell promised his terminally ill 21-year-old son, T.J., and the physician treating him, James F. Holland, that he would raise $1 million for cancer research. It took Martell three years to fulfill that promise -- but, he tells Billboard, his philanthropical quest was far from over. Holland “took me around to several patients to more or less lay a guilt trip on me.” One of those patients, recalls Martell, told him something that convinced him to stay in the game. “He said, ‘You can live 30 days without food, seven days without water. But you can’t live 60 seconds without hope.’”
When the T.J. Martell Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary at its Top 40 Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, scheduled for Oct. 15, the organization, named in memory of Martell’s son, will have raised a total of $270 million during that time period and funded breakthroughs in the research and treatment of leukemia, prostate, bladder and other cancers. “There is a cure for everything,” says Martell. “We just have to find it.”
The gala, which was set to feature performances by REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Train’s Pat Monahan and Australian singer-songwriter Grace, will pay special tribute to its founder and chairman and also honor Palm Restaurant Group co-chairmen/co-owners Bruce Bozzi Sr. and Wally Ganzi, Harman International chairman/president/CEO Dinesh Paliwal, fashion designer John Varvatos and Guggenheim Media Entertainment Group co-president/chief creative officer Janice Min and co-president John Amato.