Film Journal October 2018

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‘The Goodness

of Show Business People’

Entertainment Charities Put a Focus on Kids

by Bob Gibbons

Marlo Thomas of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Stan Reynolds at a Variety–The Children’s Charity’s Event

When a baby

named Catherine

was found

abandoned in a Pittsburgh,

PA theatre on Christmas

Eve 1928, a note asking

finders to take care of her

read, in part: “I have always

heard of the goodness of

show business people…”

Through the years, that

goodness has been—and

continues to be—the foundation

of several entertainment-based

charities, each with a different

sense of purpose, a different story that begins

at a different time in a different way.

The child left behind led to the creation

of Variety—The Children’s Charity.

An upstate New York lodge—which

became a hospital named in memory of an

early star of movies and vaudeville—gave

birth to The Will Rogers Motion Picture

Pioneers Foundation. A volunteer who

believed that sick children in hospitals

should be able to enjoy new movies at

the same time as healthy kids co-founded

the Lollipop Theater Network. A struggling

entertainer who made a promise in

a church helped to establish ALSAC, the

fundraising and awareness organization for

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Today, these four organizations, among

Todd Vradenburg

others, continue to demonstrate

“the goodness of

show business people.”

Below, their directors

discuss their uniqueness—

and a common sense of

commitment: to make a

difference, especially in

children’s lives.

Todd Vradenburg

(Executive Director, Will

Rogers Motion Picture

Pioneers Foundation):

I’ve worked for nonprofits for almost thirty

years and what I find is that every charity is

unique. All 1.2 million charities in America

are unique in their mission and purpose.

Stan Reynolds (International Vice

President, Variety—The Children’s Charity):

One unique aspect

of Variety is our naming

structure; it’s based on

a circus-themed party

our founders had—and

so we call each chapter

a “Tent.” There are 43

total Tents around the

world; 21 of them are

in the United States.

Each Tent is linked to

the international office,

but each does different

Stan Reynolds

things in different ways in different communities.

Variety is a great family of people

who care.

Evelyn Iocolano (Executive Director,

Lollipop Theater Network): We’re the only

organization that works with the studios on

a regular basis to bring their new releases to

children’s hospitals around the country. But

the real purpose of Lollipop is to lift the

spirits of the patients and the families we

serve by using movies and entertainment to

provide an escape from what is otherwise a

very stressful time in their lives.

Richard Shadyac, Jr. (President and

CEO, ALSAC): St. Jude Children’s Research

Hospital opened in 1962 with a mission

like no other—to discover how to save

the lives of children with cancer and other

life-threatening diseases—while ensuring

that no family ever receives a bill from St.

Jude for treatment, travel,

housing or food. We are committed

to continuing that

practice so that families can

focus on what matters most—

helping their child live.

Vradenburg: What I find

unique about our organization

is that our industry has

not only created our charity

but has sustained it for eighty

years. Today, we have three

distinct units: the Pioneers

34 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018

018-039.indd 34

9/5/18 3:18 PM

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