Gilda’s Club South Florida’s Annual Casino Night: Carnival of Venice, benefiting Gilda’s Club South Florida, transported attendees, this past Friday night to the Venetian Carnival and featured cuisine, gaming tables, live and silent auctions, and the beautiful cars of Ferrari and Maserati. Host Jessica Koussevitzky was on hand for this spectacular event and it was all for a great cause.
Gilda’s Club is named in honor of comedian Gilda Radner – one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live and creator of memorable characters like Roseanne Rosannadanna, Baba Wawa, and Emily Litella. Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1985 and passed away in 1989 at the age of 42. During her treatment, Gilda was introduced to cancer support groups by Joanna Bull, her cancer psychotherapist. She found people who shared her same fears – fears that no one else could understand. After meeting other people living with cancer, Gilda – with her characteristic wit – joked, “I joined an elite club that I’d rather not belong to.” Recognizing how important the support experience was to her treatment, Gilda’s dream was to develop a community where anyone with cancer would receive the kind of support she had found. In her best-selling book It’s Always Something, Gilda wrote about her experience living with cancer. She spoke of establishing a support community in New York when she felt better and said, “There should be a thousand of them.”
Following her death, Gilda’s husband, actor and comedian Gene Wilder, Joanna Bull and many of Gilda’s friends founded Gilda’s Club in her memory. The first Club, with its signature red door, opened in New York City in June 1995, and additional Clubs soon spread across the United States and Canada.
Gilda’s South Florida:
In 1994, Christina Perez, former Director of the South Broward unit of the American Cancer Society, passed away from breast cancer at the age of 29. Her fiancé, Richard Egitto in addition to many of her friends wanted to create a “cancer support community” as a means of carrying on Christina’s spirit. Drs. Nick and Wendy Masi shared the same vision in memory of their daughter, Jennifer, who had recently passed away from a rare form of cancer at the age of 14. Through the efforts of these dedicated individuals, Gilda’s Club South Florida was opened in memory of Christina Perez and Jennifer Masi, two young women who faced cancer with courage, humor, love, and grace.
In 1997, Gilda’s Club South Florida moved into its first “home,” which was office space donated by Memorial Heathcare Services. In 1999, Gilda’s Club South Florida moved to its current home – a warm, welcoming, historic house in downtown Fort Lauderdale overlooking the Tarpon River. Gilda’s Club South Florida is the 2nd oldest Gilda’s Club affiliate and currently has more than 3,000 members participating in support groups, workshops, lectures, and social activities each month.
The mission of Gilda’s Club is to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.
“It’s not just about support, it’s about hope.”
– Gilda’s Club South Florida Member
We believe that when cancer happens, it happens to the whole family and their surrounding community. Therefore, our Clubhouse and our programs are available for anyone touched by cancer as well as their caregivers, families, and friends.
We believe that YOU are the expert. We provide activities and programs that allow members to learn from the collective wisdom of the group, feel empowered in their decision-making, and find new ways to live with cancer.
We believe that individuals and families living with cancer deserve access to emotional and social support, as well as the best educational opportunities, without an added financial burden. At Gilda’s Club South Florida, every activity and program is offered completely free of charge. For More Information www.gildasclubsouthflorida.org