Gilda’s LaughFest (March 6-16, 2014) will kick off its fourth annual event with the most ambitious line-up of comedy talent yet. Some familiar names will join with newcomers to bring a large dose of laughter to Grand Rapids and West Michigan. Jay Leno, Lily Tomlin and Sinbad will headline with Chris Tucker, Jim Gaffigan and Mike Birbiglia along with dozens of other stand-up comics at venues throughout Greater Grand Rapids. In addition to the many live, on-stage performances, there will be a steady stream of activities for all to enjoy including the Funderwear Run and LaughteRx. All will bring smiles and a much needed emotional lift to the community as we begin to thaw out from one of the hardest winters in recent memory.
I have been privileged to sit on the Gilda’s Club Board of Directors for several years and am further honored to serve as current Chairperson. The Gilda’s Club Board oversees the mission of the West Michigan chapter and, through its sister organization, Living With Communities, the children’s grief program and Gilda’s LaughFest. Nearly everyone knows someone, friend or family, who has been touched by cancer and its life-changing impact. I have and am committed to assuring that others find the needed emotional support should that time come.
LaughFest was conceived and launched by the leadership team at Gilda’s Club as a means to increasing awareness of the Club’s mission and to provide a sustainable source of financial support for the entirely free services provided at its Grand Rapids and satellite clubhouse locations. Gilda’s Club is a place where people confronted with cancer can find emotional support to cope with the traumatic impact of diagnosis, treatment and all that follows.
The Club is the legacy of Gilda Radner, one of the original and much loved cast members of “Saturday Night Live”. Gilda’s brave fight and untimely death from ovarian cancer was the impetus to creating a national network of Clubhouses where people on a cancer journey could come as they are to learn, share and laugh.
Each year the ten-day long event has begun with an attempt to break a Guinness World Record. I ask you to join myself and other members of the Legacy team at 6:00 on Thursday evening, March 6th, where the community will gather at Rosa Parks Circle to begin the festivities and to beat the record for most people wearing sunglasses after dark. The current record to beat is 1,642 participants set in July 2012, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I know we will knock it out of the park!
You can also drop by LaughFest Central at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) to find great LaughFest gifts and logo wear and to get up-to-date event information. You can also benefit Gilda’s Club by giving a “High Five” to volunteers stationed throughout the community. Each five dollar donation will be matched by several generous corporate sponsors up to $50,000.
To learn more about what’s planned and how to join in the fun, visit the LaughFest website … and get your laugh on.