Giving Hope: Make-A-Wish, Cancer Support Community LA, Universal’s Day of Giving

Let’s put the spotlight on people giving us hope and changing lives for the better.

Nick Cannon (photo by MargieBarron)

Let’s be thankful for all the angels around us who focus on doing good and offering hope. Whether with a simple act of kindness, or major dedication to a cause, the caring people who gathered for recent charity galas and worthwhile causes truly make the world a better place.

Doing good and making wishes come true, The Wish Gala for Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles was held on October 24 at the Beverly Hilton. Emceeing the gala was the super-fun multi-faceted entertainer Nick Cannon. A longtime wish granter, Cannon was especially proud that the Nickelodeon network was being honored, because that’s where Cannon got his start 20 years ago as a performer (All That), writer and producer.

Providing sensational entertainment, Boyz II Men kicked things off with a special performance showcasing their heart-melting harmonies. A wish-fulfilling concert by the multi-platinum group OneRepublic (“Counting Stars”) was the big finale.

Double Dare host Liza Koshy presented the “Power of a Wish Award” to Nickelodeon, which earned the honor by granting hundreds of wishes. Always a popular wish is attending Nick’s Kids Choice Awards and getting “slimed,” plus set visits and drawing with Nickelodeon animators at the Burbank studio. Executive Vice President of Talent, Music and Events, Shelly Sumpter Gillyard accepted Nickelodeon’s award saying the company is proud to “put kids first in everything it does.”

 Among others who give us hope are supporters of the Cancer Support Community Los Angeles (CSCLA) who gathered for the annual Gilda Awards Gala, November 9 at the Intercontinental Century City. The CSCLA is the founding facility of what has become an international nonprofit organization and the largest provider of psychosocial cancer support worldwide. The Gilda Awards honor advocates and inspiring individuals that have forged new ways of approaching cancer care, all while celebrating the spirit of one of CSCLA’s first participants comedian Gilda Radner.

In 1987 Radner joined the group and found courage and confidence as she fought ovarian cancer. The CSCLA continues to honor her legacy with the Gilda Gala, a comedy-driven event inspired by Gilda’s Saturday Night Live’s roots. The fabulous Mindy Sterling, (Austin Powers actress and breast cancer survivor) emceed the gala and directed her Groundlings troupe through several hilarious improv sketches.

The Gilda Awards recognized director-producer Lisa D’Apolito as a Legacy Champion for the Tribeca Film Festival documentary Love, Gilda, which details Radner’s inspiring journey. Director Jordan Walker Pearlman (The Visit), nephew of Gene Wilder, made an emotional presentation to D’Apolito.

Actress and cancer support advocate Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue) received the Community Champion honor. Lawrence’s family experience drives her commitment for cancer care and recovery. Dr. David Wellisch was honored with the founder’s Harold H. Benjamin Innovation Award for his lifetime dedication to cancer patients and their families.

Always the most enthusiastic CSCLA supporter is Ruth Weil, a wellness advocate who served as Honorary Gala Chair. Chuck Dukas handled the auctioneering duties with aplomb raising funds for the CSCLA, which offers all services free of charge.

There was a gathering of big-hearted helpers at the 14th annual “Day of Giving” at Universal Studios Hollywood on November 8. Wearing “Giving is Universal” tee-shirts, the employee volunteers welcomed 300 homeless school children from Operation School Bell. Universal Studios Hollywood President and COO Karen Irwin was seen working alongside the USH volunteers paying it forward, helping the underprivileged kids and showing them the true spirit of the holiday season.

“The outreach event is a Universal tradition designed to connect employees with diverse community organizations, many of which are beneficiaries of the Discover A Star Foundation. Throughout the year there are hundreds of our amazing Universal Studios Hollywood volunteers helping the community,” reported Danielle Prado, Senior Manager Community Relations at Universal Studios Hollywood.

The youngsters were welcomed at the front entrance of Universal where they were given new jackets, clothing, sneakers, backpacks, books and school supplies. They also got to enjoy a day of theme park fun with a visit to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” the popular “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” ride, and “Super Silly Fun Land” play zone.

The “Day of Giving” also had USH volunteers deployed across Los Angeles supporting other non-profit groups including Project Angel Food, Tree People, MEND, Shane’s Inspiration, and Union Rescue Mission.

Bless them and all the angels among us

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.