Nanci Ryder Draws Huge Crowd Including Renee Zellweger and Reese Witherspoon at ALS Walk
More than 100 supporters of the iconic BWR publicist turn out to show their support for Ryder and raise funds for ALS research
Nanci Ryder stood in front of more than 2,500 people on Oct. 19 in Exposition Park near downtown Los Angeles and cut a ribbon to signal the start of the 2014 Los Angeles County Walk to Defeat ALS. It was a big moment — and a huge day — for the veteran publicist and BWR Public Relations founding partner who just days before publicly announced her ALS diagnosis in the pages of The Hollywood Reporter.
But while Ryder may have just revealed her battle with the deadly disease, it’s clear she’s already armed with loads of ammunition to put up a good fight judging by the huge crowd she pulled on Sunday, and the massive amount of money her "Team Nanci" raised: more than $94,000. It was enough fundraising cash to get Ryder to the front of the line for ribbon-cutting honors, which she did with a smile standing next to longtime friends Renee Zellweger and Reese Witherspoon.
“It was one of the most amazing days of my life!” Ryder explained to THR on Monday. "I am so grateful to everyone who walked yesterday for me and all the teams. We are in this fight together and will find a cure!”
The walk, organized by the Golden West Chapter of the ALS Association, garnered more than $634,000 and drew nearly double the amount of participants from last year’s event. “Team Nanci” activists were easy to spot in the park thanks to brightly colored T-shirts — courtesy of fashion brand Joe’s Fresh — that went quickly.
Showing their support for the New York native were actresses including Zellweger (who provided onstage remarks prior to the start of the walk), Witherspoon, Emmy Rossum, Rosanna Arquette, Rose McGowan, Brooke Burns, Katharine McPhee and Kate Linder. Zellweger is credited with wrangling many of the participants and it’s known the Oscar-winner was actively recruiting by sending emails and raising funds.
“This is just another chapter in our friendship,” said Zellweger, who raised more than $14,000. Other major fundraising efforts were led by Management 360, which raised more than $10,000, and Ryder herself who raised north of $23,000. Management 360’s Evelyn O’Neill, Eric Kranzler, Nicole King and Justin Grey Stone also walked on behalf of Ryder.
Though not present, friends and former clients like Leonardo DiCaprio, Courteney Cox, Vera Wang and Michael J. Fox all donated to the cause. Fox was Ryder’s first client and he previously told THR how much he loved the longtime publicist. Approximately 100 execs (both current and former) from Ryder’s firm BWR showed their love on Sunday, sporting "BWR (loves) Nanci" T-shirts. Those who showed up on Sunday included Paul Baker, Larry Winokur, Cindy Guagenti, Dominique Appel, Ron Hoffman, Brett Ruttenberg, Mary Kaye Daniels, Kelly Carkeek Striewski, Courtney Sybesma and many others.
“People drove from everywhere to be part of the walk,” Winokur told THR. “Nanci has an uncanny way of helping us all through the trauma of these life and death diagnosis, as she did with her cancer over a decade ago. When most people want to quit the race, Nanci goes to the crop. She knows exactly how to shine the light on this disease. To her, there is no self-pity, only an acknowledgment that there's a lot of work to be done!”
There was also a heavy crowd of agents, managers and business associates. Among those in attendance were Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, Simon Halls, John Carrabino, Brandt Joel, Ruth Ann Huvane, Glenn Rigberg, Becca Kovacik, Nicole King, Jonathan Perry, Troy Nankin, Crystal and Blaine Lourd, and Ruth Bernstein.
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