Jeff Leibow started The NF Hope Concert in 2011 (whose 9-year-old daughter suffers from Neurofibromatosis), and over the years has raised over more than $600,000 for Neurofibromatosis research and advocacy. 100% of the proceeds go to Neurofibromatosis Network (NF Network). Last year alone, the events raised over $150,000. This year, he has brought together a group of bright talents to join forces for something bigger than themselves. The cast will feature Jeremy Stolle (Phantom of the Opera), Quinn VanAntwerp (The Play That Goes Wrong), husband and wife duo, Keith & Laura Nicole Harrison, (Emojiland, the much anticipated new show which Time Out LA has called “Hilarious”), Peter Saide (Desperate Measures), Ava Della Pietra (School of Rock), NYC Downtown performer, Migguel Anggelo, and many others. Jeff took some time to answer some questions about the event.
Drink of Choice: Pour over
AF: I always have to ask… how do you drink your coffee?
JL: I love a really good pour over. Lately, I’ve also gotten into bulletproof coffee.
AF: What’s your backstory?/How did you come to New York?
JL: When I was in college at UC Davis, a friend of mine dared me to audition for a production of the musical, A Chorus Line. I landed a part and fell in love with theater. A few years later, I landed my first professional job and set my sights on New York. I moved from California to New York in 1995. Circumstances eventually led me back to the west coast, and I tried putting the acting bug away. That didn’t last long, and eventually I landed a leading role in Jersey Boys. Even though I’m not living in New York, I’m glad at least the NF Hope Concert is finding a home in my favorite city in the world.
AF: What prompted you to start the NF Hope Concert?
JL: When my daughter, Emma, was a couple months old, her pediatrician notice some new birthmarks. A month later, she noticed more and told us they might not be birthmarks, but rather a symptom of a rare neurological disorder called Neurofibromatosis. The same day, my wife and I pulled the ultimate rookie maneuver and Googled it. A few hours of crying and absolute fear later, we started looking up support organizations. I made a call that day to Neurofibromatosis Network and ended up spending two hours on the phone with the Executive Director, Kim Bischoff. It was during that conversation Kim asked me if I could think of something I could do to get involved, and I said, “Sure.” That was when the NF Hope Concert was born.
AF: How would you define Neurofibromatosis in your own words?
JL: I usually give the standard written answer to this…NF is a neurological disorder characterized by tumor that can grow on any nerve in the body at any time…blah, blah, blah. If I’m being totally real, my definition of NF is: hell, absolute fear caused by not knowing what this insidious thing will mean for my daughter. It’s one thing getting used to the fact that your kid will fall and get bruised. It is something totally different to look at your kid and talk about brain tumors and tumors that may become an incurable cancer.
AF: That takes a lot of strength. What is your favorite part about doing the NF Hope Concert?
JL: Feeling like I have something I can DO for Emma. Standing on that stage actively helping her and a whole community of people, when there is very little else I can do. The fact that I can do what I love as a means to that end only makes it better.
AF: What can people expect from this concert?
JL: People can expect to entertained. They should expect to be educated as well. They can expect to be inspired. And when it all over, I hope they will be left feeling connected to a cause they didn’t know existed until they decided to come to a concert one Sunday night in Manhattan.
AF: How/where can people donate?
JL: The easiest way for people to contribute to the concert is by visiting our auction site: https://nfhopenyc18.auction-bid.org/ There they can contribute (via the “Donate Now” link), register for the silent auction and even purchase their tickets.
AF: What are your words of wisdom?
JL: Find a cause you are passionate about, and give back. There is nothing more fulfilling than witnessing what happens when you change someone’s life for the better.
Details for the NF HOPE CONCERT:
WHEN: Sunday May 20th at 7:30 pm
WHERE: SubCulture. 45 Bleeker Street