CoachArt Gala Honors Robin Roberts and Her Sister, UTA's Jeremy Zimmer
Said the "Good Morning America" anchor and cancer survivor: “My sister had the courage to donate millions of her stem cells and that gave me hope that I would live to see a night like tonight."
Hollywood luminaries gathered for the ninth annual CoachArt Gala of Champions Thursday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Sal Masekela and an expecting Brooke Anderson hosted the evening where Bryan Cranston and Chandra Wilson presented to this year’s honorees Robin Roberts, Sally-Ann Roberts and UTA's Jeremy Zimmer.
Good Morning America anchor Roberts, a survivor of the double threat of breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), is a strong advocate for the CoachArt program that provides free lessons in the arts and recreational activities to children living with chronic illnesses. Robert’s sister Sally-Ann was a rare match and donated her bone marrow to save her life.
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“I think about a year ago when I look back and knowing that I was bald, that I was in my home, if somebody was around me they had to have a mask and gloves, fast forward to this night and knowing that it’s primarily because my sister unselfishly gave of herself," Roberts told The Hollywood Reporter. "I’m just so grateful to this organization that they not only treat the child that is going through an illness but their siblings as well.”
Grey’s Anatomy actress Chandra Wilson presented the Champions of Courage and Hope Award to the Roberts sisters, and wiped away tears while listening to Robin explain which of the two represented "courage" and "hope."
“My sister had the courage to donate millions of her stem cells and that gave me hope that I would live to see a night like tonight,” said Robin.
Sally-Ann Roberts was glowing with pride as she praised her sister. She called Robin her role model, impressed that she never had a pity party during her recovery.
“I feel that Robin is my hero,” said Sally-Ann. “She’s grown to be my big sister. I’m proud of Robin not just because she was able and she went back to work with her dear friends that she loves at Good Morning America doing the work that she loves.”
Robin then interrupted adding, “The number one morning show in America.”
Breaking Bad star Cranston joked about his meth skills as he took the stage to introduce United Talent Agency CEO Zimmer as the recipient of the Champion of Heart and Humanity award.
“I offered my services to teach kids how to cook crystal methamphetamines and they said, 'no,'” cracked Cranston. “I said, ‘Do you realize it’s like almost 99 percent pure?’ And they said, 'no.' When I was just about to come out, I said, ‘But it’s a very kid-friendly light blue color.'”
The crowd erupted in laughter as Cranston couldn’t resist taking another pass, this time at the agent who represents him.
“By the way, I don’t know if you know it but I left 10 percent of my food on the plate if he wants to pick that up later," said Cranston. "It’s my habit now. I should try comedy next."
Zimmer added to the gaiety as he shared his experiences participating in the CoachArt summer program.
“I danced in a conga line with the kids and the joy was undeniable and therefore so was the request," said Zimmer. "That morning in the church committee room, I experienced the pure joy of living which came about as the direct result of caring about someone else. Then I went back to my normal day and was immediately self obsessed and forgot all about that experience."
An audience including Wayne Newton and Dodgers legends Bill Russell, Steve Garvey and Maury Wills listened to CoachArt kids, who had never picked up an instrument a month ago, perform musical numbers throughout the night including Jason Mraz’s “I'm Yours,” as well as original numbers that they wrote.