Elizabeth Banks Honored at March of Dimes Annual Fundraiser

Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler was also named Inspiring Woman of the Year

Some of Hollywood’s biggest comedic actors, including Chris Pratt and Steve Carell, used their trademark humor to bring awareness to a serious subject — infant health — at the 2014 March of Dimes Celebration of Babies fundraising luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Friday.

Dozens of stars came out to support March of Dimes and honor Elizabeth Banks, recipient of the 2014 Grace Kelly Award, and Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler, the March of Dimes Inspiring Woman of the Year. Other attendees included Eddie RedmayneEmily BluntJohn KrasinskiMolly Sims and Selena Gomez.

March of Dimes co-chair Jason Bateman emceed the luncheon, and fellow co-chairs, including Universal Pictures president Jimmy Horowitz and producer Wyck Godfrey, were also in attendance.

“Jimmy Horowitz is my boss, and he asked me if I’d do this, so you usually want to say yes to your boss,” Bateman joked. “But when they ask you to do something that you would do even if the boss didn’t ask you, it’s a double yes. It’s really an honor to be a part of something so well organized for such a good cause.”

The annual March of Dimes Celebration of Babies Hollywood luncheon recognizes celebrities and prominent figures in the entertainment industry who are either pregnant or have recently given birth, and who embody the March of Dimes mission to help ensure full-term pregnancies and research problems affecting the health of babies.

“Making sure that babies are born healthy and at term, that mission allows more and more people to experience those amazing first moments with their children,” Banks, who has two sons, said of March of Dimes. “As a mom, I cherish those memories and I love that March of Dimes is fighting for more people to have those same memories.”

Along with Banks and Gabler, March of Dimes honored doctors James Byrne and Herman L. Hedriana, and each donation of $1,000 or more made during the luncheon was matched, thanks to March of Dimes co-chairs such as Godfrey and Horowitz.

“My whole goal here is to make it so no one has to go through what we went through, and that all babies can be born healthy,” said Horowitz, whose involvement with the cause was sparked by his own daughter’s premature birth 16 years ago. “The idea for this is, the most important job is being a mom, and most people don’t get honored for that. They get honored for their jobs, for their philanthropy, but we honor moms.”

In addition to being supporters of the March of Dimes mission, many of the event’s celebrity attendees were also united by the distinction of being recent parents. Blunt and Krasinski were recognized as members of the 2014 “Stork Club,” having welcomed daughter Hazel in February, and Pratt spoke about he and wife Anna Faris becoming parents to son Jack, who was born more than two months premature in August 2012.

“When I wasn’t on set, I was at the hospital,” Pratt said of his son's first few months of life. “I leaned on a few close friends for support, and my friends at Parks and Rec during the day, and when I wasn’t there I was sleeping on the floor in the hospital.”

Though he weighed just 3 pounds at birth and spent several months in the neonatal intensive care unit, Jack is now a healthy 2-year-old, just one success story of the work that March of Dimes does.   

“It’s such a relief to know that after all we’ve been through, we have a perfectly healthy, smart, imaginative baby, and that is thanks to the March of Dimes, ” Pratt said. “I’ve gotten to do a lot of cool things as an actor...but none of it means anything compared to being someone’s daddy.”

Twitter @OliviaNiland

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