Beat the Odds Children’s Defense Fund Dinner

Reese Witherspoon, Michelle Monaghan, Conan O’Brien, Elisabeth Shue, Zoe Saldana, Trey Thompkins Celebrate Teens Who “Beat the Odds”


Five young students who “Beat the Odds” were the real stars at the Dec. 6 Children’s Defense Fund-California Dinner.

Yet the fact that A-list Hollywood celebrities presented the awards was not lost on anyone at the gala event at the Beverly Hills Hotel. (Check the gallery below for pictures.)

“That’s Reese Witherspoon,” one of the honorees told the audience. The young award-winner seemed clearly elated to be accepting the honor, especially in such distinguished company.

From the stage, Michelle Monaghan of “Mission Impossible III” thanked the event chairs, while the Academy Award-winning Witherspoon, late night host Conan O’Brien, Oscar-nominee Elisabeth Shue of “Leaving Las Vegas,” Zoe Saldana of “Avatar” and Los Angeles Clipper Trey Thompkins presented the trophies to the “Beat the Odds” honorees. The line-up was impressive, to say the least.

This year, honorees were Richard Kent, Roneisha Pugh, Yahydia Iniguez and twins Jade Woods and Jalen Woods.

Children’s Defense Fund president and founder Marian Wright Edelman gave the keynote speech. A legend for her work on behalf of children and civil rights, she spoke about the importance of investing in young people.

Noted TV and film producer J.J. Abrams, director of 2009’s “Star Trek” and creator of “Lost” and “Revolution,” joined power agent Kevin Huvane of Creative Artists Agency later in the evening to request donations.

Huvane suggested people make a pledge, “whether it’s $10 or $10,000,” and then added, “We prefer $10,000.”

Abrams, Huvane, Witherspoon and O’Brien served as co-chairs, along with Katie McGrath, Ruth-Ann Huvane, JimToth, Liza O’Brien, Jurnee Smollett and Josiah Bell, Carol Biondi and Frank Biondi, Stacey King and Charles King, Laura Wasserman and Casey Wasserman.

The annual event awards $10,000 scholarships, plus additional support, to exceptional high school students who have overcome adversity to succeed. Short videos made their achievements apparent – in the classroom, the community and their personal lives.

Among others attending were Holly Robinson Peete of “21 Jump Street” and NFL great Rodney Peete, Hannah Simone of “New Girl,” Alice Eve of “She’s Out of My League,” Alex Avant of “First Daughter,” Greg Grunberg of “Heroes,” Miranda Cosgrove of “iCarly,” and Alexis Biedel of “Gilmore Girls.”


Top photo: Co-chair Ruth-Ann Huvane at the Beat the Odds Children’s Defense Fund-California Dinner (photo: Alex J. Berliner/ ABImages )

Second photo: Los Angeles Clipper Trey Thompkins, center, with the five honorees from left, Roneisha Pugh, Yahydia Iniguez,  Jalen Woods, Richard Kent and Jade Woods at the Beat the Odds Children’s Defense Fund-California Dinner (photo: Alex J. Berliner/ ABImages)

Third photo: Co-chair Carol Biondi with CDF president and founder Marian Wright Edelman at the Beat the Odds Children’s Defense Fund-California Dinner (photo: Alex J. Berliner/ ABImages)

Fourth photo: Alice Eve, left, with Zoe Saldana at the Beat the Odds Children’s Defense Fund Dinner-California (photo: Alex J. Berliner/ ABImages)


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