By Joyce Rudolph
A group that raises funds for community causes each year during a Gala at Lakeside Golf Club. If you guessed the answer to that clue is “What is the Burbank Kiwanis Club?”, then you are probably an avid viewer of the TV game show “Jeopardy”.
This year, the service club acknowledged the contributions of that show’s host Alex Trebek during the 19th annual fundraising party last Saturday night.
The evening featured a silent and live auction, steak dinner and the reverse drawing that carries a prize of $5,000 either split between five people or given to a winner who takes all.
Trebek, accompanied by his lovely wife, Jean, was lauded for being television’s most enduring and iconic figures serving as the show’s host since its debut in 1984. He has won five daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host. He is a strong supporter of his alma mater the University of Ottawa where he has created scholarships, sponsored a lecture series and supported construction of an Alumni Hall named in his honor.
He supports several charities and educational organizations. In 2013 he received the Alexander Graham Bell Medal from the National Geographic Society for 25 years as host of the National Geographic Bee. In 2010 he received an award from World Vision for his 25 years of service to that organization.
Trebek gives to the American Cancer Society, American Heart Assn. and the Alzheimer’s Assn. As a boy, Trebek became familiar with service clubs and the good works that they do because his father prepared luncheons for several of them.
“That has influenced me in my life because when we are young we strive to earn a lot of money — we want to earn a lot of money for ourselves and our family and there comes a point when you say hey I’ve got enough and now I want to give back to the community and that’s what Kiwanis Club is all about and that’s why you people are here tonight and that is something laudable.”
Mayor Jess Talamantes presented a commendation to Trebek from the city. Other City Council members attending were Emily Gabel-Luddy and Bob Frutos and his beautiful wife, Laura. Supervisor Mike Antonovich presented a proclamation. A field deputy for Rep. Adam Schiff brought a commendation and California State Assembly member Paul Krekorian sent a resolution.
Trebek chose the Campbell Center of Glendale to receive a $5,000 donation from the Burbank Kiwanis Club because his wife is a supporter of the charity.
Attending the gala from the Campbell Center were foundation Executive Director Rita Tomassian-Hopkins and Program Specialist David Cain.
The Campbell Center is a nonprofit agency that provides adults with disabilities the opportunity to achieve their highest level of independence through residential placement, on-site vocational training, job placement, community integration and education. For more information, visit www.TheCampbell.org.
Event Chair for the 19th year was Marsha Jackson assisted by Co-Chair Gary Peterson. Committee members included President Cynthia Faust, Harvey Branman, Luis Centeno, Ron Rothacher, Nancy Serpa, Joe Terranova, Hazel Schrefel, Wally Kendig, Jackie Jones, Don Hurst, Lisa Malm and Nori Walla.
Larry Stamper provided the invocation using several Jeopardy-esque references. Johnny Holiday served as master of ceremonies. Voice-over actor Jimmy Weldon delivered a monologue titled “A Presentation of Old Glory” saluting the American flag followed by vocalist Charissa Wheeler singing “God Bless America”.
Evan Malm conducted the live auction with such fabulous items as a tour of Jay Leno’s Garage and a visit to the set of CBS TV series “NCIS” including lunch with Executive Producer Scott Williams.
There were five winners in the reverse drawing. Kiwanis member and Lt. Gov. of Kiwanis Division 16 Diane Cripe had two winning tickets and will deposit one prize in granddaughter Lauren Grace Ouweleen’s college fund. Also winning were Hunter and Mickey Bennett, a group from Business Network International of Sherman Oaks and Jacquie Stephens who will split the prize with her club Warner Center Kiwanis.
Funds raised go to a long list of charities including the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Anti-Bullying programs at the schools, four Key Clubs at Burbank High School, Bellarmine-Jefferson High School, Providence High and Monterey High, Circle K Club at Woodbury University and the vocal and instrumental music programs at Burbank High School.