Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds
An A-list of Hollywood stars, entertainment industry VIPs and other notables turned up at the Beverly Hills Hotel Dec. 5 to honor five students who “Beat the Odds,” and in doing so, the affair raised $1 million for the Children’s Defense Fund – California.
For details, check out my story online in the Los Angeles Times, or look in print in the Dec. 8 Sunday Image section. More details and more pictures of the honorees, celebrities and committee chairs are on this page and in the gallery below.
Celebrities included Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso, Kevin Nealon and Susan Yeagley, Aimee Garcia of “Dexter,” John Cho of “Star Trek,” Katie Lowes of “Scandal,” “Sleepy Hollow” executive producer Mark Goffman, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Minnesota Senator Al Franken. On the notable list of event co-chairs were Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams, Jurnee Smollett-bell and Josiah Bell, Carol and Frank Biondi, Liza and Conan O’Brien, Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth, Laura and Casey Wasserman, Ruth-Ann Huvane and Kevin Huvane.
As an admirer of Matt Damon’s films, I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with the “Bourne” star, who said he came at the invitation of friends, naming Abrams among them. I only wish I’d thought to ask him about Nelson Mandela, as he starred as the rugby captain in “Invictus,” and no doubt would have met South Africa’s remarkable president, who died earlier on the day of the dinner.
(My husband and I have since re-watched the brilliant film, for which Damon, as well as Morgan Freeman as Mandela, were nominated for Academy Awards.)
Mandela was so much on everyone’s minds that night, that keynote speaker Marian Wright Edelman concluded her talk by acknowledging “the passing of an extraordinary, great human being’s life,” praising his momentous accomplishments in ending apartheid and transforming his country.
Past honoree Maria Burgos also spoke, as did all of this year’s award recipients: Marilyn Bravo, Alexis Metcalfe, Stephanie Fabian, Alezaihvia Melendez and Jerry Gonzalez. individual videos showed their difficult struggles and vast against-the-odds achievements.
Before presenting the night’s final award, Reese Witherspoon said she loved the organization and this particular event because “it is truly all about the kids,” adding, “For example, many of you will notice, if you look at the back of your chair, there is no gift bag hanging there. Nor will you find one waiting for you at the valet.”
Top photo: Event co-chairs Kevin Huvane, left, and J.J. Abrams asked for donations “right now” at the Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds awards dinner, a big success with proceeds tabulated at $1 million (Photo by Charley Gallay/ Getty Images for Children’s Defense Fund-California)
Second photo: From left, Matt Damon, his wife Luciana Barroso, and event co-chair J.J. Abrams at the Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds dinner (Photo by Charley Gallay/ Getty Images for Children’s Defense Fund-California)
Third photo: Three key participants, from left, Jennifer Garner presented an award; Children’s Defense Fund president Marian Wright Edelman gave the keynote speech, and event co-chair Reese Witherspoon talked of her love for the organization and the Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds dinner (Photo by Jason Merritt/ Getty Images for Children’s Defense Fund-California)
Fourth photo: Event co-chair Carol Biondi in beige, with the exceptional student honorees from left, Jerry Gonzalez, Alexis Metcalfe, Stephanie Fabian, Alezaihvia Melendez and Marilyn Bravo at the Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds dinner (Photo by Jason Merritt/ Getty Images for Children’s Defense Fund-California)
ALSO IN SOCIETY NEWS LOS ANGELES:
Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds
Published Dec. 7, 2013 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA