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People & Pets

Posted by Kelly Jansens on

Let me tell you about an organization called Gilda’s Club…to those who are not familiar with Gilda’s Club, it is a place of refuge and healing for people dealing with cancer and/or has lost a loved one to cancer.

I was approached a fews years ago to help out with an event called LaughFest - People and Pets. In learning more about what Gilda's does for people and being the huge dog nut that I am, It seemed like the perfect event to help out with. It has been seven years now since I joined this committee through Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids that hosts, LaughFest. LaughFest runs annually for a couple weeks in the month of March. Gilda’s Club brings a line up of local to international comedians for a time of laughter with proceeds going back to Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. 

Gilda’s Club was named after the popular comedian, Gilda Radner. When Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on October 21, 1986, she wrote about this and other experiences living with cancer in her book, It’s Always Something.

During her treatment, Gilda became part of a cancer support community, and she wished that anyone dealing with cancer would be able to receive the kind of support she found there.  After she died at the age of 42 on May 20, 1989, Joanna Bull, her cancer therapist, and Gene Wilder began to plan Gilda’s Club, a free cancer support community.  The first Gilda’s Club opened in New York City in June 1995.

Where does the “Pet” part connect with Gilda’s Club and LaughFest – People and Pets event? Well, Gilda had a Yorkshire terrier, called Sparkles. Sparkles went with Gilda everywhere, including to the hospital when Gilda was sick. Sparkles helped make a difference in Gilda’s every day battle with cancer.

“ I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are a roll model for being alive. “ -Gilda Radner

LaughFest promotes healing through laughter. As us dog lovers know our furry companions bring unconditional love and joy to our lives. Gilda knew this too and she loved her Sparkle dog so much! In Gilda’s honor LaughFest – People and Pets event was originated.

This crazy event brings out many people and their pets. It continues to grow each year too. It is a time to celebrate life with our furry companions. I think Gilda would have loved this event too!

This blog is timely because the seventh annual LaughFest People and Pets is this Sunday, March 12, 2017 at the Grand Rapids Ford Field House from 11 am – 2 pm.  You will find the full two week schedule along with details on the People and Pets event here: http://www.gildasclubgr.org/

“ Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best out of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” –Gilda Radner

Hope to see you (and your pet) at LaughFest People and Pets this Sunday!

Love, Peace and Wags,
~Kelly


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