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Gilda's Club

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Gilda's Club
Formation1995 (1995)
FounderJoanna Bull, Gene Wilder, Joel Siegel and other family and friends of Gilda Radner
Legal status501(c)(3)
PurposeSupport, educate, and empower cancer patients and their families - so no one has to face cancer alone.
Region served
Gilda's Club New York City

Gilda's Club is a community organization for people with cancer, their families and friends. Local chapters provide meeting places where those who have cancer, their families, and friends can join with others to build emotional and social support as a supplement to medical care. Free of charge and nonprofit, Gilda's Club chapters offer support and networking groups, lectures, workshops and social events in a nonresidential, homelike setting. The club was named in honor of the original Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989.

In 2009, Gilda's Club merged with The Wellness Community to form the Cancer Support Community, although local branches generally opted to retain the name Gilda's Club. Gilda's Clubs generates funds to support its programs through events often hosted by notable figures.


Gilda's Club was founded by Joanna Bull, Radner's cancer psychotherapist and co-founded with Radner's widower, Gene Wilder (himself a cancer survivor) and broadcaster Joel Siegel (who died after a long battle with the disease).[1] Joanna Bull started the project with just $10,000 and networked in the New York cancer support community.[2] She became the executive director of the first club opened in New York City in 1995, after a long fundraising campaign that included movie trailers featuring Wilder in theaters around the country who acted as the celebrity spokesman.[3] The organization took its name from Radner's comment that cancer gave her "membership to an elite club I'd rather not belong to".[4] Radner's story can be read in her book, It's Always Something.

Gilda's Club is famous for its signature red doors meant to symbolize Radner's "vibrancy".[5]

Each club is required to meet certain criteria before being approved for a new location. These specific criteria includes: accessibility- each club must be near public transportation and have easy highway access, generate $1 million in fundraising prior to opening, and adhere to approved wellness therapies.[6] Following these guidelines, Minnesota opened a Gilda's Club after raising $3.8 million in 8 years.[6]

In 1998 Chicago opened its first Gilda's club, since then it has expanded to 4 new locations in the Chicago area.[7]

In July 2009, Gilda’s Club Worldwide merged with The Wellness Community, another established cancer support organization to create the Cancer Support Community (CSC).[8][9][10]

As of 2012, there are over 20 Gilda’s Club clubhouses. Although some local affiliates of Gilda’s Club and The Wellness Community have retained their names, many affiliates have adopted the name Cancer Support Community following the merger. The proposed name change caused controversy in some communities.[11][12][13][14] Upon hearing the news, Radner's late husband, Gene Wilder, commented that she would have been upset with the name change, saying, "she would have cried."[15] The national organization introduced a web-based diagnostic "distress screening" tool[16] which led the Pittsburgh Gilda's Club to change its name and sever its ties with the national organization because of a disagreement over requirements to offer the screening tool to all patients.[17]

In 2019, due to financial struggles, The Lake House, a non-profit organization for cancer support, merged with Gilda's Club Detroit.[18] This offered another Gilda's Club location in Detroit that allowed for the expansion of the Club's reach.[18]

In 2021, the club in Evansville, Indiana, dissolved its relationship with Gilda's Club saying the association with the national group was too costly. The chapter was renamed Cancer Pathways Midwest.[19]

Celebrities Associated[edit]

Numerous celebrities and notable figures have associated themselves with Gilda’s Club. The most notable figure is the late Gene Wilder, co-founder of Gilda’s Club, and Gilda Radner’s Husband.[20]

In 1996, former Northwestern University president Leontine Chuang and Princess Diana attended a lunch with various members of Gilda’s Club Chicago.[21] Princess Diana’s visit in 1996 helped bring awareness to Annie Laurie allowing for Gilda’s Club Chicago to become what it is today.[22]

In 2017, the English comedian Ricky Gervais, made a generous donation of $10,000 to Gilda’s Club Chicago as a thank you to the city for selling out his two shows.[23]

In 2018, The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, founded by the Chicago Cubs first baseman, partnered up with Gilda’s Club Chicago to provide children living with cancer or having a family member with cancer, a free 5-day summer camp for almost 40 kids between the ages of 13 and 19.[24]

In 2018, Nicky Delmonico, Chicago White Sox outfielder, alongside girlfriend Tiffany Maher from Fox tv show So You Think You Can Dance attended the dance class “BeMoved” to show support for those suffering from cancer in association with Gilda's Club Chicago.[25]

In November 2019, former Saturday Night Live cast member Vanessa Bayer was presented with the Gilda Radner Award at Gilda’s Club NYC gala.[26] More than $850,000 was raised at the gala which will go towards providing free cancer support to those in need.[26]

Recent Events[edit]

Gilda's Club hosts a number of events which include; concert benefits, group workouts, and comedy shows. All of these events have been put together in the past to benefit the club and raise money to continue their services. Some events are held annually.[27] Gilda’s Club Chicago hosts a yearly teen essay contest that aims to help high school students who are battling cancer or have a connection to it.[27] This essay contest is supposed to help those young people find themselves in a creative way.[27]

In 2000, Northwestern University held a dance marathon that raised almost $400,000 for the Chicago club.[28]

In 2009, Gilda's Club Metro Detroit hosted its first annual "Bras for a Cause" fundraising event.[29] The event features a live and silent auction for crafted bras that are also worn by breast cancer survivors in a runway fashion show.[30] In 2018, "Bras for a Cause" raised almost a million dollars.[31]

A “Night of a Thousand Noogies” is an event hosted by the Chicago club annually.[32] The Second City Improv Club participates in the event by performing a unique improv comedy show.[32] The night is filled with sketches, a silent auction, food, and drinks.[32] The event raises money used to support more than 300 free activities each month.[33] The attendees of the event must wear all red in honor of Gilda’s Club.[32] In 2016, the event saw close to 250 attendees.[33] Each ticket was sold for $75 and VIP tickets were sold for $125. By the end of the night, Gilda’s Club raised over $50,000.[33]

Actor George Wendt, famously known from Cheers, hosted a benefit in 2017 that allowed people who he had worked with in the entertainment industry to roast him.[34] His nephew, Jason Sudeikis, emceed the event that raised money for Gilda's Club Chicago, as well as for the Second City Improv Club.[34]

In honor of Gilda’s Club Chicago's 20th anniversary, they held a party and awards dinner to celebrate serving more than 45,000 people and raising over $25 million.[22]

Gilda's Club Grand Rapids hosts LaughFest, an annual comedy stand-up festival to raise money for the club.[35] 2020 will be LaughFest's 10th anniversary.[36]


Gilda's Club serves communities across the United States and Canada. Some locations include:

  1. Chicago, Illinois
  2. New York City
  3. Detroit, Michigan
  4. Twin Cities, Minnesota
  5. Quad Cities
  6. South Florida
  7. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  8. Louisville, Kentucky
  9. Middle Tennessee
  10. South Jersey
  11. Kansas City, Missouri
  12. Greater Philadelphia
  13. St. Louis, Missouri Archived 2020-08-12 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Rochester, New York[37]
  15. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  16. Madison, Wisconsin

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dennis McLellan, "Joel Siegel, 63; film critic on ABC morning news show", Los Angeles Times, June 30, 2007.
  2. ^ Williams, Lena (3 November 1994). "Gilda's Club for Cancer Patients Is Rising". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  3. ^ Lena Williams, "Gilda's Club for Cancer Patients Is Rising", The New York Times, November 3, 1994.
  4. ^ "Gilda's Club Twin Cities: Who We Are". Website. gildasclubtwincities.org. Archived from the original on March 20, 2015. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  5. ^ Tribune, Amanda Barrett Hamel Special to the (19 February 1998). "BEHIND THE RED DOOR, SUPPORTERS OF GILDA'S CLUB CELEBRATE". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  6. ^ a b "Gilda's Club opens in the Twin Cities, offering special brand of cancer support". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  7. ^ "Gilda's Club Chicago Keeping Name To Honor Radner". 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  8. ^ "Wellness Community & Gilda's Club May Merge". Oncology Times vol 31, Issue 7. pp. 8–10. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  9. ^ McClure, Susan (December 14, 2009). "Gilda's Club and The Wellness Community Join Forces". Archived from the original on December 7, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  10. ^ "Merging to Increase Mission Impact". The NonProfit Times. Archived from the original on December 7, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  11. ^ "Gilda's Club Name Change Seen as Insult", Associated Press in Daily Herald, November 30, 2012.
  12. ^ Allison Takeda, "Gilda Radner Fans Say Gilda's Club Name Change Is an Insult to the Comedienne", Us Weekly, November 30, 2012.
  13. ^ Scott Bauer, "Gilda's Club Name Change Reversed In Madison, Wis. Chapter", Associated Press in Huffington Post, January 23, 2013.
  14. ^ Samara Kalk Derby, "Gilda's Club Madison reverses decision, won't change name", Wisconsin State Journal, January 24, 2013.
  15. ^ Luippold, Ross (2013-01-02). "Gilda Radner's Widower: 'She Would Have Cried' At Gilda's Club Change". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  16. ^ Laura Landro, "To Treat the Cancer, Treat the Distress", The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2012.
  17. ^ Brett Sholtis and Michael A. Fuoco, "Pittsburgh's Gilda's Club leaves national group over diagnostic tool", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 7, 2014.
  18. ^ a b "The Lake House merges with Gilda's Club Metro Detroit". www.candgnews.com. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  19. ^ "Gilda's Club Evansville announces rebrand with new name". 12 April 2021.
  20. ^ Kline, Mariah (31 October 2019). "Through emotional support and engagement, Gilda's Club Kentuckiana is changing the lives of those affected by cancer". The Voice-Tribune. Archived from the original on 1 November 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  21. ^ Lyon, Jeff (14 July 1996). "BEHIND THE SCENES WITH PRINCESS DI". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  22. ^ a b "Gilda's Club Chicago Celebrates Milestone". 2018-02-02. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  23. ^ "Ricky Gervais Donates $20K to Chicago Charities". NBC Chicago. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  24. ^ May 8th; Club, 2017||Comments Off on Teen Campwith Gilda’s. "Teen Camp (13-19 years old) with Gilda's Club". Imerman Angels. Archived from the original on 2019-10-23. Retrieved 2019-11-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ Thompson, Phil (18 May 2018). "White Sox's Nicky Delmonico does his own disco demolition while dancing with cancer survivors". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  26. ^ a b "Gilda's Club NYC Raises $850,000 and Honors 'SNL' Star Vanessa Bayer at Annual Gala – Times Square Chronicles". 8 November 2019. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  27. ^ a b c "'It's Always Something' Gilda's Club Teen Essay Winner shares essay". ABC 7 Chicago. 19 May 2019.
  28. ^ Tribune, Matt Baron Special to the (6 March 2000). "NU DANCERS RAISE $400,000 TO FIGHT CANCER". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  29. ^ Montemurri, Patricia. "Bras for a Cause fund-raiser Saturday". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  30. ^ Hafke, Timothy (2018-09-27). "A Reason to Put Your Bra On". Hour Detroit Magazine. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  31. ^ "10th annual 'Bras For A Cause' fundraiser event in Royal Oak". FOX 2 Detroit. 2018-10-14. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  32. ^ a b c d "Dean Richards get the scoop on the Annual Gilda's Club "Night of a Thousand Noogies"". WGN Radio. October 2017.
  33. ^ a b c "Gilda's Club hosts a laugh fest for charity". Chicago Tribune. 18 October 2016.
  34. ^ a b "George Wendt of "Cheers" gets roasted for charity". ABC7 Chicago. 2017-09-10. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  35. ^ Newschannel 3, Andrew Minegar | (2019-11-18). "LaughFest organizers announce 2020 artist lineup". WWMT. Retrieved 2019-11-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  36. ^ "2020 LaughFest lineup announced, here are some of the headliners!". Fox17. 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  37. ^ "Home". gildasclubrochester.org.