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LaughFest to celebrate Gilda's Club 10th anniversary

1:55 PM, Nov 18, 2010   |    comments
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Video: LaughFest unveiled as Gilda's Club celebration

  • John Ball
  • Bill Cosby
  • Betty White

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (WZZM) - For the past week, yellow smiley faces across West Michigan have certainly generated buzz in the community.

The image first appeared on local facebook profiles a week ago. Since then, it has spread across Kent County,  to the lakeshore, and now statewide.

Many people spent time trying to come up with different scenarios about what they symbolized and today the mystery was solved and the answer to all the speculation is a "seriously funny" one.

The question to "What's up with the smiley faces? " has finally been answered.  A comedy event known simply as LaughFest will arrive to Grand Rapids this spring in celebration of Gilda's Club decade-long presence in West Michigan.

Carroll Velie, Co-Chair LaughFest notes, "Our Gilda's Club is one of the most successful Gilda's Clubs in the nation."

Former Board Chair of Gilda's Club, Jack Jackoboice adds, "The community has so blessed us with their funding and support. So we just said, let's share the laughter. "

For the past year and a half, a select group worked to plan this secret, funny fundraiser that will include 50 some comedians performing at 25 venues over the course of ten days in March.  Big names include Betty White and Bill Cosby.

"I have to say we took our cues from ArtPrize in a lot of ways to say how can we make this work to be successful in this community and involve everybody," says Velie. 

Leann Arkema, President and CEO Gilda's Club says, "A lot of this is about asking the community to answer the question, 'What makes you laugh?' A big part of this event is giving power to the public to come up with humorous programming ideas."

For many who attended the Thursday morning kickoff, Gilda's Club is a place that's touched their lives, both professionally and personally.  Located on the city's westside, it's one of 52 clubs created in honor of actress Gilda Radner, offering free cancer and grief support in a variety of ways for those who need it.

Arkema explains, "When big things happen in our lives, we need to find that place where we can get our smile back and at Gilda's Club, that's what people do that are living with cancer and grief."

"One of the things we know about health, is that laughter can help with your health. So, Gilda's Club sponsoring something like laughter, that relates to laughter makes sense," says Velie.

After all, the tagline used often at Gilda's Club: Learn. Share. & Laugh.

Click here to find more details about LaughFest.

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