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Laughing really does matter

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On Saturday April 9th, at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento, Fox40 and BloodSource hosted a fundraiser to benefit UC Davis Children’s Hospital, (specifically the expansion of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) and the Foundation for America’s Blood Centers (FABC). This first time fundraiser included Paul Robins (Fox40) as the Master of Ceremonies, local comedian Jack Gallagher as the featured act and Dave Coulier as the headliner. Dave is probably best known for his role as Joey in the 1980’s sitcom ‘Full House’ and for hosting America’s Funniest People. However, you have probably heard one of his many voices in cartoons and movies.

The fundraiser brought together many local Sacramentans that came to support these wonderful causes and share a little humor and good times with their friends and colleagues. This spirit was evident from the pre-show meet-and-greet (with Dave and Jack) to the performances themselves. Since the evening was devoted to helping those in need by making others laugh it would seem the show was a raving success.

Before the show The Sacramento Press (SP) had a chance to sit down with both Jack Gallagher (PG) and Dave Coulier (DC); here is an excerpt from those interviews.

SP – Dave, what made you get involved with BloodSource and the Children’s Hospital?
DC – It was a simple phone call from an old friend named Lynn Stobener who we used to work with at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sacramento; when she called me up and asked it was simple — "no problem."

SP – What are you expecting to get or do for the organization?
DC – Money, it is all about money. Money drives this whole machine. I was at the hospital yesterday visiting these kids in the pediatric ward and when you see the work these people are doing it is just heartwarming. It is one thing when we can come here and perform and make people laugh, it is another when you can meet the people who really make a difference. Yesterday we saw a kid who was born on March 19th and was just a little over a pound; you are seeing this baby that is smaller than your hand, hooked-up to all these apparatuses, and in the room is this amazing team of people around who are taking care of her. At that moment, you realize that this is exactly the right thing to do.

SP – Have you had the opportunity to work with BloodSource before?
DC – No, I have not had the opportunity to work with them before. In fact, I had not been to UCD before and I wanted to see the new facility and see what they were doing; seeing it suddenly made things very tangible. Something I didn’t know was that BloodSource has been around since 1948 and the sheer amount of people they have helped is amazing. If I can be the conduit that brings money to fuel something that cool then everyone gains something. For me, I gain the knowledge of something I did not know about before and also getting to meet some really cool people. It is all very rewarding for me; we are all here to celebrate and laughter is a great way to do that. If I can help people laugh and forget about their daily troubles than I am happy to do that.

SP – Does this cause touch your heart a little more since you are a parent of a preemie?
DC – How can it not! I do a lot of work with kids and I had a foundation for ten years in Detroit that raised millions of dollars for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. It is easier for me because I know the psychology of what these parents are going through. There is a common bond between parents who have gone through this. As I said earlier, it was a simple phone call by Lynn (Strobener) and the answer was yes.

SP – Does Sacramento still hold a special place in your heart after performing here for all those years?
DC – Yes, yes it does. I came here for the first time in 1981 for a show with Bob Saget and George Wallace. At that time, Laughs Unlimited was downstairs in a banquet hall and the hotel was across the river. Those memories are always a part of your show and the comedian you are. So, yes, it will always hold a sort of fondness for me.

SP – Jack, let’s ask the same questions of you.
JG – Same thing, Lynn called me and since I have known her forever the answer was yes. She quickly explained what the benefit was for and how it would help the kids and there was no other answer to give. If it had been someone else who asked, it may have been harder to say yes with my schedule but when someone like Lynn calls – you stop and listen.

SP– Do you have any personal connection with the cause?
JG – My son was not a preemie, but when he was born he spent some time in the ICU; he stopped breathing. In fact, he is still lazy that way. Then, I have a lot of connections with UC Davis because I do a lot of work with the MIND institute. Living in a community changes how you look at kids. I told Dave earlier that it’s like being in a plane and hearing a kid cry, you wonder why they don’t quiet them down. Then you have kids and it is a whole different ballgame; you sit there and hope that it is not your kid screaming. Once you have kids it changes your mind about everything. So, when you see kids that are in these dire conditions it just tugs at your heart.

SP – Do you think going to the hospital gave you a different perspective on what these organizations do?
JG – Unfortunately, I was not able to go with Dave. However, as I stated before, I spent a lot of time with the MIND institute, which is a different section of the hospital and circumstances, so I see the work these people do. Everyone is cash strapped right now and if we can help that is what we should do.

SP – Do you have any goals on what you would like to see raised here tonight?
JG – As much money as possible, I know there are some corporate sponsors and everyone is thankful for that. People ask you for money all the time and, you know, if you can give them something in return for their donation then you they should be seeing a great show. I think everyone will have a great time; we will make a lot of money and then call it a day.

SP – If there was one thing you would like the people supporting this cause to walk away feeling or knowing what would that be?
JG – Anybody who has kids and understands the position these kids are in, and the amount of money it takes to treat these kids, can’t help but walk away thinking “I had a good time and donated to a good cause.”


If you would like to donate to BloodSource you may contact them at:

10536 Peter A McCuen Blvd
Mather, CA 95655-4128

Marc McLaughlin is a contributing writer and photographer for the Sacramento Press.

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