10/19/2014 AT 03:45 PM EDT
When Katie Couric
stepped out Thursday night to be honored for a charity cause dear to her heart, she brought along one of the most important people in her life.
As she posed for photos at the 16th Annual Tomorrow Is Tonight Gala Benefiting Project A.L.S., her proud husband John Molner stood back, joking to onlookers, “Who’s she?”
Before taking her seat at Cipriani 42nd Street, Couric told PEOPLE that married life “is great. It’s fun. He’s really funny and really fun to be with. I love being with him.”
She added, with that signature smile: “The honeymoon isn’t over yet, so it’s nice.”
The broadcast news veteran also made a point of remembering her close friend, New York theater and film producer /people/archive/article/0,,20128583,00.html, who had ALS, the illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease (for which people recently raised millions through the Ice Bucket Challenge).
Estess, who co-founded Project A.L.S., died in 2003, leaving behind friends and family dedicated to finding a cure, including Ben Stiller and wife Christine Taylor, Julianna Margulies and Couric herself, who said she and Estess were “like sisters.”
“Katie might as well be a sister,” said Jenifer’s sister Valerie Estess. “She used to go and sit for hours on the bed with Jenifer. These celebrities really are our friends. They’ve been around since the beginning … and they’re still here.”
Added Couric: “I related to the sisters because I too lost someone I loved,” she said, referring to her first husband Jay Monahan, who died of colon cancer in 1998. “I was motivated by that feeling of powerlessness to try to do something.”
And A.L.S. Awareness at All-Time High
The gala was kicked off by Jersey Boys star Vincent Piazza and hosted by Sex and the City‘s Mario Cantone – who vowed never to douse himself in icy water, preferring instead “a warm sponge bath.” He added, “So don’t even f–––ing try it.”
By the end of the night, though, Cantone was drenched, cold and slightly sheepish after getting dumped on despite his protests.
“I think awareness for A.L.S. is at an all-time high thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge,” Valerie Estess told PEOPLE. “And Jenifer would be overjoyed at that.”