That’s right folks, you heard correctly – planning is currently underway for the annual Montel Williams MS Foundation Gala and Pro-Celebrity Poker Challenge. This year’s festivities will be held in New York City on March 13th.

The fun will commence at 5:30 pm inside Cipriani on 42nd Street with the inaugural gala’s cocktail reception. Following the reception will be an exquisite dinner for the guests and then there will be a brief awards ceremony. But it will not be until after the awards ceremony is over before the real action will get under way.  

After the early formalities, Montel will host an interactive party featuring a celebrity poker tournament and surprise guest entertainers. We will be keeping our fingers crossed for Michael Jackson but will settle for Kanye West.

The honoree for the night’s festivities will be Billy Tauzin who is the CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). PhRMA’s mission is essentially to ensure that innovative biopharmaceutical research – including vital research for the treatment of MS – continues to thrive in the hopes of saving lives everywhere.

Montel Williams was diagnosed with MS several years ago and has remained one of the most visible and outspoken proponents for work against the disease. He believes so deeply in the research that he even served as a national spokesman for PhRMA.

Hosting the Montel Williams event this year will be Emme and Robin Givens. Poker lessons will be available at the party this year as well as live music and special guests.

The event’s schedule is as follows:

5:30pm-6:30pm: Poker Tournament Registration*
5:30pm Cocktail Reception
6:45pm Awards Ceremony
7:15pm Pro-Celebrity Poker Tournament
7:15pm Buffet Dinner, Entertainment, and Dancing

Several well known professional poker players are already expected to appear including Annie Duke, Russ Hamilton, Freddie Deeb, Barbara Enright, Scott Fischman, Jamie Gold, Susie Isaacs, Karina Jett, Chip Jett, Mary Jones, Marsha Waggoner and Robert Williamson III. There are several celebrities who are also expected to play but have yet to be announced.

Organizers running the event include but are not limited to Dianna Donofrio, PokerNews columnist Tina Bergstrom, Janis Sexton, Kosta Trigazi and Kyle Morris.

Tickets start at $1,000 and can be purchased either by visiting or calling 212-843-1745. The complete listing of available participation levels is as follows:

Reservation Packages:

Royal Flush Package at $100,000
Straight Flush Package at $75,000
Four Of A Kind Package at $50,000
Full House Package at $25,000
Flush Package at $10,000

Individual Tickets:

Individual – Premium at $5,000
Individual – Preferred at $2,500
Individual – Limited at $1,000

* Poker participants must pre-register by March 10, 2008, due to limited space.

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