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WEST SIDE CANCER CENTER CELEBRATES 31 YEARS OF COMMUNITY HEALING

Written By: Marcelle - May• 23•13

 

PHOTOS TAKEN AT WEST SIDE CANCER CENTER CELEBRATION

31 YEARS OF COMMUNITY HEALING

Annual Fresh Canvas Party Bestows Funny Man Jack Herrguth with 2nd Annual GILDA Award DSCN1579DSCN1605

(May 21, 2013 | Santa Monica, CA) The Museum of Flying in Santa Monica was the place to be this past Saturday night as hundreds of people from all walks of life turned out to support the Cancer Support Community – Benjamin Center (CSC-BC) at its 2nd annual Fresh Canvas Party. Doctors, lawyers, artists, hipsters and more were all on hand to celebrate the Center’s 31 years of enhancing the lives of tens of thousands of people affected by cancer. As actress Susan Blakely noted, “Cancer touches us all, either personally or someone you know. Having a wellness center like the Benjamin Center that can provide support to anyone going through such difficulties is extremely important, vital really… which is why I am here to lend my support.”

The Center which began as The Wellness Community, a small Santa Monica walk-in community center for people living with cancer, gained national attention in the late 80s and became a model for patient care within the cancer care community due to its association with comedy icon Gilda Radner, one of the Center’s first participants. After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Radner was hesitant to seek support from others. But soon after visiting the Center, she became one of its biggest advocates. In her words, it provided “a community for people who have cancer to come and play in, to make their lives better, to have an opportunity to help themselves and to help other people.” It was in her memory that the Gilda’s Clubs, modeled after the Center, were established.

In addition to celebrating the good work accomplished by the Center, the night was perhaps more importantly a benefit for the Center’s free-of-charge programs and services. What began last year as an art sale with two artists donating their work to benefit the Center has grown in its second year to a gallery sale featuring the art work of 30 artists who had all generously donated their work to sell throughout the evening so that the non-profit Center can remain in operation and continue to ensure that no cancer patient or family is ever charged for its services.

A number of the participating artists were also in attendance at the event including Steven C. De La Cruz, Janet Roberts, William Fuller, Mel Keefer, Ernie Holzman, Parker Austin, Lara Porsak, Susan Thacker, and Billy Zane. Other notable guests not mentioned elsewhere in this article included philanthropist Ruth Weil, art gallery owner Lois Lambert, actor Alex Boling from ABC’s “Suburgatory,” film actress Lisa Zane, comedienne Katy Franco, actor Mark Cirillo, celebrity chef Mark Kearney and Ann & Lauren Benjamin (daughters of the Center’s founders).

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As guests arrived and began to fill the Museum and peruse the art in the Fresh Canvas Gallery area, they were treated to tray passed hors d’oeuvres and refreshments from the open bar. As the evening progressed multiple food stations opened up and guests were served an array of incredible treats ranging from Seafood Paella and a very popular 5 Cheese Mac-n-Cheese to Beef Short Ribs and a very in-demand sliced Tri-Tip with green peppercorn sauce as well as a selection of vegetarian options.

Teresa Bond, CEO/President of The Cancer Support Community – Benjamin Center, took the microphone early in the evening to welcome guests and introduce The Louie Cruz Beltran Ensemble. After the crowd settled in for the start of the main program, they were briefly greeted by CSC-BC board chair Lorenzo Esparza who then turned the podium over to Dr. Daniel Lieber, a member of the Center’s Professional Advisory Board. Dr. Leiber was thrilled to be presenting the Center’s 2nd annual GILDA Award to one of his former patients who he had treated for testicular cancer and who exemplified the spirit, determination and humor of the award’s namesake. Not so uncoincidentally, this year’s receipt of the Gilda Radner legacy award, Jack Herrguth, also shares a comedy background with the late comedienne, having worked in series development at Comedy Central for the past eight years. Herrguth accepted the award (a Tiffany bowl filled with wood carved cherries) and then proceed to move the audience to laughter and tears with his acceptance speech in which he related stories of his own battle with cancer and reminisced about those he met along the way who were not as fortunate as he to survive their battles with the disease. Herrguth ended his speech on an inspiring note when he brought his entire family up on stage to thank them for helping him through the often unpleasant realities of cancer treatment.

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Continuing in this uplifting vein was the introduction of comedians Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani who proceed to entertain the crowd with an abbreviated version of their popular live show, The Meltdown, which in this instance featured popular stand-up comedians Andy Kindler, James Adomain and Nick Swardson. Once everyone had a good laugh and/or recovered from a few of the more off-color jokes, it was time again to switch gears as the Museum filled with the sound of Latin jazz from the incomparable Louie Cruz Beltran and his Ensemble as they returned to the stage to play out the remainder of the evening. The dance floor quickly filled as many guests were anxious to enjoy a bit of dancing.

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The evening was a moving celebration of life and the healing power of the arts. Gilda Radner surely would have approved.

Thank you to the PR Shop L.A for creating such a successful event.

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Scott Bussell
PR Shop L.A.
Prism Media Group
p. 323.445.7318
Scott@PRShopLA.com

 

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