Marquee charity – Foundation enlists stars, firms

When Katie Couric embarked on a public awareness campaign against colon cancer — the disease that claimed her husband Jay Monahan at age 42 — she turned to a foundation that combines celebrity spotlights and corporate sponsorship to raise millions, Time magazine reports.

Using some of the biggest names in show business, the Entertainment Industry Foundation has funneled more than $140 million to charitable causes.

Lately, the foundation has focused on health initiatives, such as a $20 million fundraising campaign to support breast-cancer research. 

Celebrities bring big publicity and big dollars to health initiatives.

Christopher Reeves, for example, boosted spinal cord injury research and Michael J. Fox put Parkinson’s disease in the spotlight.

Lisa Paulsen, the foundation’s president, began the colon cancer awareness campaign by recruiting Dennis Franz, star of the TV drama NYPD Blue whose father died of cancer; St. Louis Cardinal star Eric Davis, whose colon cancer was diagnosed at age 35; and TV’s Judge Judy, whose mother died of the disease. 

Corporate sponsors Aetna US Healthcare and others have pledged a total of $10 million in support, and another $10 million is promised from the entertainment industry.

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