Last night, Project Angel Food’s LEAD WITH LOVE 2021 Telethon presented by City National Bank, aired live on KTLA5 and was a triumph! Hosted by Will & Grace star Eric McCormack and the magnificent KTLA anchor Jessica Holmes along with Loni Love and Alec Mapa as co-hosts, and executive produced by Brad Bessey, Project Angel Food succeeded in raising $1,126,090 far surpassing their fundraising goal of $800,000.
It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and Project Angel Food is thankful to have received so much support from friends and the community and providing the funding needed to sustain the expanded service to those in need, preparing and delivering over one million medically tailored meals to our most vulnerable neighbors. Project Angel Food Executive Director Richard Ayoub says, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude and inspiration. The success of this tells me Los Angeles is with us every step of the way.”
The program opened with a surprise greeting from Ringo Starr and from that point on, donations poured in by phone, online, and text…and they’re still coming in. They sent out a call for love, and Los Angeles answered with donations big and small. People calling in were not only giving $5, $10, $100, they were telling stories to volunteers about the son they lost to AIDS, or their own cancer battle, or their friend who has survived because of Project Angel Food. Those phone lines became lifelines to human connection.
The Celebrity Call Lounge was hosted by Alec Mapa and it was quite the party filled with long-time friends of Project Angel Food. Donors had the opportunity to personally speak to the Project Angel Food ALL STAR ANGELS, including Jonathan Adams (Last Man Standing), actor, activist and longtime Project Angel Food supporter Joely Fisher, Jonathan Del Arco (Star Trek: Picard), Beth Hall (Mom), Lauren Tom (Friends), Kirsten Vangsnes (Criminal Minds); Lawrence Zarian (The Kelly Clarkson Show), Gregory Zarian (Westworld); and Marc Malkin (Sr. Editor, Variety).
With the help of Loni Love and MYFM’s Lisa Foxx, audiences were kept apprised of the progress of the thousands of donations throughout the evening. Just a few of the evening’s highlights included:
● A big thank you to City National Bank who started the thermometer growing with a $100,000 donation, with Linda Duncombe, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing, Digital and Product Officer at City National Bank presenting a check and then donating $5,000 personally before leaving the building.
● A special Tribute was paid to longtime Project Angel Food Chef Randy Nakamura, who died from COVID this past year, by celebrity chefs Cat Cora and Stuart O’Keeffe, and actor Brad Garrett, who met Chef Randy at Project Angel Food. Eric McCormack then led a toast, lifting a glass with all the stars in studio to Chef Randy, followed by a special performance by LeAnn Rimes, singing Throw My Arms Around the World, beautifully capturing the spirit of the evening.
●Loni Love, author, and host of The Real, presented her $25,000 winnings from her recent appearance on ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud.
●Hollywood Medium Tyler Henry, who has a waiting list of over 200,000 people for a reading, donated a reading to Lauren Hatz for a $15,000 donation.
●Jamie Lee Curtis who called in live via Skype, made a $10,000 gift from her family foundation.
●Cat Cora, Iron Chef, television host, and best-selling author donated 25 autographed copies of her Classics with a Twist cookbook to the first donors calling in with $100 or more. KTLA Morning News mugs and Project Angel Food cookies were also giveaways.
● The Herb Ritts Foundation offered a “match challenge” of $75,000, agreeing to match donations coming in over an hour up to $75,000. The match was reached in just 27 minutes.
● Other big donors for the night included: $50,000 each from Susanna Blinkoff & Jordan Corngold, Connie Frank, and Mary Fisher; $30,000 National Rongxiang Xu Foundation & Human Heritage Project; $26,000 from Michael J. Libow; $25,000 from Stanley and Joyce Black Family Foundation, Block Party WeHo, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation, WEN Hair and Body Care by Chaz Dean, Whole Foods Market, and Main Street Catering…and our thanks to everyone who donated!
The show was filled with amazing music from such stars as the legendary Gloria Estefan who specially performed her inspirational We Needed Time, as did Andy Grammer, who recorded Don’t Give Up On Me, as well as Vanessa Williams singing Colors of the Wind, Jewel singing Hands and Phillip Phillips performing his hit song Home.
Thanks to all who contributed live and pre-taped messages for the Telethon Jamie Lee Curtis, Marianne Williamson, Jimmy Smits, Javicia Leslie, Brad Garrett, Matt Bomer, Maria Shriver, Tyler Henry, Wanda Sykes, Sandra Lee, Rachel Lindsay, Sharon Lawrence, Jennifer Tilly, Olympic Gold Medalists Shannon Miller and Oscar De La Hoya, Juan Pablo Di Pace, Ross Mathews, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Katey Sagal, Annie Potts, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ana Gasteyer and Rachel Dratch, Yvette Nicole Brown, Peter Porte, Chef Cat Cora, Chef Stuart O’Keeffe, Duff Goldman, Conrad Ricamora and longtime Angel Food supporter and Board of Trustees member Pauley Perrette.
It’s still possible to donate by texting LOVE20 to 50155.