Rain may have pelted the New York City streets Tuesday night but inside Cipriani Wall Street it was all about snowflakes—the UNICEF Snowflake Ball, that is. The 12th annual event for the UNICEF, which raised over $3.9 million to provide lifesaving assistance to children and families in need across the globe, saw a star-studded turnout that included Allison Williams, Tea Leoni, and host Octavia Spencer—but all eyes were on the night’s top honoree, Katy Perry.
The singer was set to receive the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award, which her boyfriend, Orlando Bloom, received at last year’s event. Unsurprisingly, Bloom was by Perry’s side for the momentous occasion. But guests were in for a major shocker when it came to the presenter of the "Firework" singer's award.
After VIP tickets to one of the star’s concerts were auctioned off for $50,000, organizers revealed that Perry—who sipped red wine and cozied up next to Bloom during the evening’s seated dinner—would receive her honor from none other than Hillary Clinton. Guests erupted in applause as HRC, whom Perry supported during her presidential campaign, took the stage, and when cheers from the surprised crowd died down, Clinton explained that she simply had to return the favor of Perry’s unwavering support.
“On a personal level, I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be here to help celebrate the recipient of this year’s Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award,” she said, ticking off Perry’s esteemed qualities. “Someone who just has the spirit, and the energy, and the compassion that Audrey Hepburn brought to her work for UNICEF. Someone who is a global mega-star. The person who is the social media queen, with the most Twitter followers in the world—although, she’s getting some competition.” And, to an uproar of cheers, Clinton continued, “Someone whose powerful voice and creative lyrics remind us, when you get knocked down to get back up.”
Describing Perry as “a deeply committed humanitarian,” Clinton went on to describe the star’s history with UNICEF, for which she became a Goodwill Ambassador in 2013. “She has traveled the world, advocating for the rights and needs of children,” said Clinton. “She has visited some of the poorest places on earth and lent her voice to kids who would otherwise be voiceless, from remote villages in Vietnam to Madagascar. She has put a spotlight on child poverty and on UNICEF’s lifesaving work and has encouraged the empowerment of women and girls, as well as young people living with HIV and AIDS. And through her most recent global concert tour, she helped raise more than $1 million for UNICEF.”
To wrap up her introduction, Clinton offered a more personal account of witnessing Perry’s giving nature. “I have seen Katy’s commitment to the causes that she believes in firsthand,” she said. “I’ve gotten to spend time with her. I know how deeply she cares about making our world a better place. She is serious about understanding the complex problems we face, and pulling people together to solve them. We need champions like Katy now more than ever. Her passion, her energy, and, yes, her voice—louder than a lion!”
A teary-eyed Perry then rushed to join Clinton onstage, where the pair hugged it out, posed with the award, and went in for a quick kiss on the cheek before Perry addressed the audience. “Does anyone have a tissue?” she asked. “I just want to say one thing before I start. I’ve always had a voice, a singing voice, right? But I’ve never had a voice like I’ve had before. And Hillary has led that voice inside of me. And that light will never go out. It will continue to get brighter, and brighter, and brighter.”
After thanking Clinton for her “incredible work,” Perry pumped up the audience. “I don’t know about you, but I am motivated now,” she exclaimed, encouraging guests to “make some noise” if they felt the same. Explaining that she was “humbled” to receive the award, Perry recounted the life-changing story of her first trip with UNICEF and described her deep connection to the cause.
“Even in my own home, I see children and their vulnerabilities,” said Perry. “With my sister living right next door to me, raising two baby girls, it is incomprehensible to me that families on the other side of the world deal with the same normal struggles of parenting that my own sister and brother-in-law have, while also often living in poverty and not having the basic needs that we’re usually afforded, like access to clean safe water, nutritious food to eat, and a roof over our heads.”
She continued, “On my last tour, I was able to donate $1 for every ticket sold to UNICEF, raising over $1 million. And even though I’ve only been on a few field visits, I’m happy that I’ve helped highlight the effects of climate change—which is real—and been involved in conferences on technology that will help vulnerable children. But truly, my work has only just begun. And this award is a starting line, not a finish line. And it will be a constant reminder to get back in the field and shine my spotlight where it matters most.”
Offering one last reminder that “we all needed a helping hand to grow into the people that we are today,” and that “we’re all in this together,” Perry headed back to her seat—which Bloom, ever the gentleman, had already pulled out for her as he stood there, beaming.