It didn’t take long for people to get very emotional at the 3rd Annual Noche de Niños, held on May 9, 2009, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. “Courage to Care” honoree Jamie Lee Curtis started it at the VIP cocktail party that began the evening. Sporting a hot pink wig and a sexy long black dress, Curtis got choked up as she explained just why she was going punk at the black-tie affair that raises funds for the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.
“It’s in honor of Katie Westbrook, a girl I met in Pittsburgh while I was doing a charity appearance for Childrens Hospital,” Curtis explained, as her sister Kelly stood close. “She had cancer, and this was the wig she was wearing when I met her. And she whipped it off and had written ‘Jamie Lee Curtis rocks!’ in magic marker on her bald head. Katie died two years later, and I asked her mother for this wig, to wear in her memory.”
Later, as the star-studded crowd moved into the ballroom for dinner, an exuberant dancing show, and the more serious award segment of the evening, Jennifer Lopez added some vehement feelings of her own to the proceedings, as her husband Marc Anthony looked on. The mother of twins recalled a sickening moment when her baby girl Emme was just a few weeks old.
“She had a lump on her head,” Lopez said with a shiver. “I asked Marc, ‘Did you drop her?’” He hadn’t, and they rushed the baby to the hospital, where it happily turned out all was well. But that “terrifying” experience led Lopez and Anthony to found the Maribel Foundation in conjunction with Childrens Hospital, and for Lopez to step up the work she was already doing with the institution.
Even California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger got a bit emotional as he awarded his long-time friend Jamie Lee Curtis her “Courage” award.
“She is a perfect woman,” he said, “and when it comes to children, she knows how to make them into eagles. She helps them soar!”
Helping sick children was what the gala was all about, and plenty of Hollywood’s heavy hitters made their commitment clear. Actors came out in force, including Annette Bening and Warren Beatty, Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance, Noah Wyle, Shoreh Aghdashloo, Kevin Sorbo, Christopher McDonald, Mary Hart, and Alex Meneses, who served as one of the gala’s co-chairs, and a terrific lineup of musicians made the night a memorable one.
Jewel looked gorgeous and sounded even better, Raphael Saadiq brought the cool, and he’s our new favorite soul singer, (shades of Marvin Gaye), and child prodigies Emily Bear and Tim Callobre proved that you don’t have to be a grown-up to make the piano and guitar sing.
Ironically, in the midst of all those wealthy people hellbent on making life easier for children with serious illnesses, probably the biggest gun in the room wasn’t quite sure why he was there. Billionaire businessman-lawyer-philanthropist John E. Anderson, still spry and sharp at 91, leaned over amid the din of the cocktail party and asked us, “What is the charity we are here for? I just came along with my wife, I know she is on the board.” We’re sure that no matter whether he knows which charity event he’s attending, Anderson and his wife have given more than their share to the cause of saving the children.
For more information or to contribute to the cause, go to www.childrenshospitalla.org.