Rhythm and blues superstar Ne-Yo and comedian Kevin Hart recently stood side by side at the second annual Fostering a Legacy gala benefit in East Hampton to honor angels of adoption. The two hosts, who managed to fuse humor with fervor for change in the foster-care industry, honored three amazing people who’ve all been indefinitely changed by adoption. Honorees included Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr., celebrity photographer Johnny Nuñez and Cartoon Network president and COO, Stuart C. Snyder.
Gossett Jr. confessed that his adoptive son “saved my life. It wasn’t I that saved his. He saved my life many times.” Celeb shutterbug Johnny Nuñez grew up in the foster care system. Adopted at the age of 5, Nuñez confessed his own story of being abandoned by his birth parents only to be adopted by “the most amazing woman” and family. In his speech, Nuñez chronicled his own trajectory—transforming from the kid that was bullied in school because of the clothes he wore to becoming one of the most renowned celebrity photographers (shooting President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Mick Jagger, Swizz Beatz and Clive Davis, to name a few).
“I truly admire Louis Gossett Jr. for his bold initiative to adopt his son when he was in need,” said Ne-Yo, founder of the Compound Foundation. “Johnny Nuñez, who has been an advocate of our cause for years, and Stuart Snyder, an active supporter of the foundation, are both well respected individuals who we cannot thank enough. It is only right we honor these extraordinary men at this year’s benefit.”
Ne-Yo’s Compound Foundation aims to go beyond the basic needs of foster children. In addition to providing food and shelter, Compound aims to inspire children to grow and live their dreams by building recording studios in the foster care facilites, with influencers like Johnny Nuñez and others on hand.
Of course, the night’s focus was not only to honor but also to raise funds for upcoming efforts. Following the awards, attendees were given the option to donate to the foundation by purchasing balloons and participating in an auction. Afterwards, Bridget Kelly, Luke James, Mario, RaVaughn and Estelle blessed the crowd with brief performances. Ne-Yo himself brought the night to a close with a performance of Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything.”