The Hermanson Gala Aug 26

Julie Ratner founded the Ellen Hermanson Foundation with her sister Emily Levin in 1997. It was in honor of their younger sister, Ellen Hermanson, who died of breast cancer at age 42 in 1992. The resulting events, including Ellen’s Run, which was on Sunday, and the Ellen Hermanson Gala, to be held next Saturday, are some of the most popular events in the Hamptons.

Ellen Hermanson, who died at age 42 (The Ellen Hermanson Foundation)

The first-place finisher at Ellen’s 5K Walk/Run was, again, Sergey Avramenko, after last year’s wrong-way finish. Avramenko, we have to note, has made a sweep of the 5ks here: winning the Four Leaf Clover 5k Seatuck Cove, Center Moriches in March; in April the Patchogue Family YMCA 5k Run/Walk and Katy’s Courage 5K in Sag Harbor.  in June, he won the Beacon of Hope in Montauk. In July he won the  Joe Koziarz Memorial 5K in Westhampton Beach and at the end of July, he won Jordan’s Run (another 5K) in Sag Harbor.

At the finish line, August 20, 2023

The woman who finished first was Andrea Sarkari, in 19th place. Following her, in the female ledger, was Fairfax Walker, 12. Fairfax trains with the Manhattan Youth Track Club….

The race over, the energetic Julie Ratner is now focusing on the coming Gala. This year, as last, without her sister. Emily Hermanson Levin, who died in 2021.


“The gala is always our big money-raising event,” Julie Ratner says. “You see, we don’t take money out of the Hamptons. We raise money here, and it stays here.”

The Ellen Hermanson Summer Gala is on Saturday night, August 26, with Gala chair Jean Shafiroff. Tickets are $425 for those under 40, otherwise $700. And that covers cocktails starting at 6:30, dinner and dancing at the Bridgehampton Tennis & Surf Club, followed by a bonfire on the beach from 10:30 to 11:30. Bring a sweater. Tickets here.

A dance line at last year’s Gala (The Ellen Hermanson Foundation)

One only has to look at photos of last year’s Gala to see what a joyful event it is, partly due to Ratner’s own irrepressible approach to life.

Julie Ratner says, “I just went to a gala, and their low price was $1,250.” You can feel her just shaking her head. “It’s not just rich people who live in the Hamptons,” she says.

“Beside, people who care about breast-cancer prevention and awareness and can’t come to the gala, they still can do the run every year.”

More good times at last year’s Gala (The Ellen Hermanson Foundation)

She is passionate about the good that the foundation does, a job that expanded during and after Covid. “We re-evluated, and decided we needed to do more. We created four community partnerships: OOLA, Hispanic. Shinnecock and the Retreat.” These programs expand the idea of medical care offered at the Hermanson Breast Institute to include things like child care while a woman who doesn’t have health insurance goes to see a doctor. The institute has two satellites, one in East Hampton, where sophisticated imaging is now available.

The Foundation also stresses education in immigrant populations and sends representatives into neighborhoods to let them know about care they might not realize they can get. “Women from communities, Single mothers. They don’t know what they don’t know,” she says.

“If they don’t have health care, they may not know they can get a mammogram. Or we will give her child care so she can go.”

“Breast cancer affects the whole family. Physical, social, emotional.” The foundation looks at all of the costs involved in supporting a family undergoing a health crisis. “If you can’t afford to pay the heating bill, it’s the whole package,” Ratner says.

Back again to the Gala. Because it is at the Bridgehampton Surf and Tennis Club, she is excited about the idea of the after party.

“The bonfire on the beach!” she exclaims, sounding like a teenager. It is scheduled to go on until 11. “Let’s pray for good weather.”