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The 25th annual Alliance for Children’s Rights dinner took place at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday night, where Alliance president and CEO Janis Spire was honored with the National Champion for Children Award.
This Is Us stars Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz served as masters of ceremonies, acknowledging that their show’s premise made them appropriate choices to emcee the night’s event.
“The blood of our show is actually drawn from real-life circumstances of generations of family members. So it made sense for us to be here tonight,” Moore told audience members.
“Like our show, families that we are honoring today make constant sacrifices for the love of their children, and they’re fortunate to have support from the Alliance,” added Metz.
While, in the show, Moore’s character may have played a part in altering the life of a child in need, honoree Spire is the Alliance’s real-life fairy godmother, working to make any struggling child feel loved, supported and needed.
“I’ve been a part of this organization, leading it, for the last 15 years, and we’ve given this honor to really deserving people who have stepped up in such big ways to use their name and their voice to stand up for our children,” Spire told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m here as the honoree, but really I can’t take off my Alliance CEO cap because I care so deeply about this organization.”
For the past 15 years, Spire has expanded the size of the organization and led to the jump-start of pioneering initiatives such as the Early Intervention Advocacy Center, Bridges to Education and the Opportunity Youth Collaborative.
What Spire feels most proud of, however, is what the organization stands for. “The [children in need] have no voice, and we give them that voice,” she told THR. “We’re their legal advocates. They have the protection … the love, the family, just like what we would want for all of our kids. Foster kids need that. We help create families.”
Also honored at the event was Austin Beutner, founder and chairman of Vision to Learn, which operates mobile clinics to provide free eyeglasses to children facing poverty. He was given the Francis M. Wheat Community Service Award. While accepting his award, Beutner paid his respects to Spire for being the heart and soul of the Alliance: “You’re an inspiration to me and to many people in this room.”
The gala raised $1.5 million.
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