The Gift of Life Celebrated by George Lopez
“Some people say my wife and I are joined at the hip but we’re really joined at the kidneys,” funnyman George Lopez joked. Actually, he’s very serious about that statement, since his wonderful wife Ann donated one of her kidneys to give George the gift of life several years ago. That’s why Ann hosted and George emceed (with help from composer David Foster) the 30th annual Gift of Life Celebration to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California (NKFSC). “I’m really excited about being here tonight. The entertainment is great. Chicago is one of my favorite bands,” George said about the concert by the legendary American Rock’N’Roll band noted for their unique brass sound. The night included a woman bidding big bucks to perform a number with Chicago on stage. It was the thrill of a lifetime for her, and something she can cross off on her bucket list.
“Life is precious. Live it to the fullest,” Ann told me. She also lives it tirelessly working with George as spokespersons for the organization, and taking an active role to raise funds and awareness about kidney disease. She helped host a great event held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and also shared duties the next day for the second annual George Lopez Celebrity Golf Classic at the Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake. Both were a celebration of life for friends and supporters of NKFSC.
At the star-studded gala, three awards were presented: the NKFSC Humanitarian Award to Stewart Rahr; the Martha Proctor Mack Spirit of Nephrology Award to Dr. Kant Tucker; and the inaugural Gift of Life Entertainment Media Award to the “ER” series. The generosity of Rahr and commitment of Dr. Tucker were put in the spotlight, along with the “ER” storyline that followed Dr. Carter’s life with dialysis and kidney transplant. “His story was heartwarming, inspiring and a true testament to the power of love in the form of organ donation,” said Dr. Joe Sachs, “ER” producer and the resident medical consultant on the remarkable series. “ER” castmates Goran Visnjic and Paul McCrane, along with producer Lisa Zwerling, took a bow with kids from the Painted Turtle Camp that provides a supportive environment for kids with kidney disease. (Lopez loves visiting the camp.)
George also has a passion for golf, which is why he was up at the crack of dawn the day after the gala to share hosting duties with Stewart Rahr for his Celebrity Golf Classic. Fortunately, the Lakeside course is just a nine iron away from Lopez’ Toluca Lake home. Among his celebrity friends on hand were Andy Garcia, Joe Mantegna, Kevin Sorbo, Joe Pesci, Johnny Mathis, Kyle MacLaughlin, Anthony Anderson, Tim Allen, Grant Show, Bryan Fisher, David Leisure, Flex Alexander, Rick Dees, Cedric the Entertainer, NFL’s Rodney Peete, NBA’s Chris Webber, baseball slugger Barry Bonds and even ice-skating champ Michelle Kwan. Alyssa Milano was the celebrity caddy for the event, and everyone was happy to be there to enjoy a great round of golf on a beautiful day, plus help raise funds for the Kidney Foundation.
George reported, “I suffered from chronic kidney disease most of my life but I didn’t even know it. Ever since my wife lovingly agreed to donate one of her kidneys, we’ve been working side by side with the people of the National Kidney Foundation. Awareness is important. If you’ve got high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of kidney disease, you’re at risk. But three simple tests by a doctor can tell if your kidneys are doing their job right.” And contacting the Kidney Foundation can help with the information you need to celebrate life.