We seem to have a history of hosting Comedy Night on the rainiest day of the summer. Yet again, on Thursday, June 13, 2013, it was a torrential downpour outside as the Young Leadership Council’s friends and family made their way to Greenwich Village Comedy Club. Fortunately, no amount of rain could stop this crowd. In fact, our friends were looking for tickets to the event up until show time, a true testament to the importance of our mission and the inescapable passion of the YLC. As the lights dimmed and we settled in to enjoy a night of laughs (and a surprise visit by Judah Friedlander!), Gilda Radner crossed all of our minds.
Following her death from ovarian cancer in 1989, the comedienne’s husband, Gene Wilder and her cancer psychotherapist, Joanna Bull started the Gilda’s Club movement. In June 1995, Gilda’s Club New York City opened its signature red door – Gilda’s legacy – to everyone living with cancer. In July 2009, The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club Worldwide joined forces to become the Cancer Support Community (CSC). By helping to complete the cancer care plan, CSC optimizes patient care by providing essential, but often overlooked, services including support groups, counseling, education and healthy lifestyle programs. Today, CSC provides the highest quality emotional and social support through a network of more than 50 local affiliates, 100 satellite locations and online.
Everyone in that comedy club on June 13th had been touched by cancer in some way. My own connections are diverse and far-reaching – family, friends, classmates, neighbors. I have been a part of the YLC for about four years, and I have felt increasingly that the work we are doing is not just necessary, but crucial. As a group, our collective stories are tragic, but what we have learned is this: In the face of adversity, we will come together to show support for those we love. We can embrace laughter in hard times, and as long as cancer exists, New York City will stand behind all those fighting against it. I hope you will join us in October as the YLC comes together again to contribute to this vast support system that, thanks to CSC, we are helping to create.