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Gilda Radner Club To See Name Change?

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Gilda Radner, who rose to fame in the ’70s and ’80s as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” and died of ovarian cancer in 1989, had a club formed in her honor by friends and family to support others dealing with the disease. With chapters all over the world, “Gilda’s Club” has been a hugely successful force in the lives of those suffering from cancer, but now, a branch of the club says they want to change the name to Cancer Support Community Southwest Wisconsin because many of the patients who attend were born after Radner’s death, and might not know who she was.

Lannia Syren Stenz, the executive director of the Madison, Wisconsin chapter, said, “We are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis. We want to make sure that what we are is clear to them and that there’s not a lot of confusion that would cause people not to come in our doors.”

But many disagree, saying that to assume young people have never heard of Radner–or been inspired by the way she dealt with her diagnosis–is simply false. Others say that it’s disrespectful to her legacy to remove her name from the club and will only have negative side-effects.

“The only educating you’re doing is teaching kids that when they die from cancer, their name will be erased from history in 20 years because the next generation doesn’t know who they are. Way to give them hope!” said Gilda’s Club supporter Mark Warneke.

While the change hasn’t been set, there are 55 other chapters around the world which have been given the option to change their name. So far, 20 have kept “Gilda’s Club” as their official title.

Gilda Radner Club To See Name Change?
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  • Lisa

    How terrible to change the name of an organization that was founded on her behalf! What happens in a few years, change the Betty Ford Clinic cause they forgot about her?!? And who is Susan G. Koman? Really?!? How about educating these young women about the strong, brave, respectable women from our past! Maybe sit them down and show them Gilda’s accomplishments on SNL! They would fall in love with her as we all did and understand that it should stay the way it is! If you forget the past, it will tarnish our future!

    • Sandi

      Well said, Lisa.

  • Bob H.

    Thanks for the article.

    Gene Wilder made a comment, trying to be the nice guy he always is, saying that the reason for the name change is that the Gilda’s Club name makes fundraising harder. However, this is not true since I have read that Gilda’s Club affiliates have a harder time raising money without using the GC brand name. The fundraisers are the ones responsible for bringing in money creatively.

    I recently read It’s Always Something, where Gilda inspired facing cancer bravely, seriously while injecting a sense of humor. I highly recommend it.

    Unfortunately, the Cancer Support Community has ridiculously decided to phase out the Gilda’s Club name for future support centers that want to affiliate. Perhaps this viral outcry happening now will inspire them to see the self-evident market research.

    Best,

    Bob

  • Ted Seals

    I think this is terrible! Even to think of dropping Gilda Radnors’ name from her club is unheard of. Gilda Radnor was one of the greatest female comedians of our time and was taken way too soon. You need to keep her name and teach your new members/patients about her. If you can make someone smile you have made their life a little better for a little while and Gilda could surely do that. It will be a sad future with no Betty Ford, Susan Koman, Danny Thomas. Think about it.

  • Joni

    Most of today’s college students were born since Washington too, are you changing the name of the monument? Let them look it up and learn. I am 66 if I don’t know something or someone mentioned…..I take the time to look it up.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the support everybody!!!:) Keep it going!

  • buddy

    I guess my public school name… Washington Elementary..must be changed becuase nobody who attends was alive when our first President was! What absurdity.

  • Leslie

    Well said Buddy and Lisa!!

  • Carolyn

    Keep Gilda’s name alive! She was my here and still is!

  • Ron

    I think this chapter is “shooting themselves on the foot”. They aren’t going to get more donations or support by changing their name and the younger women should learn who Gilda was nd what she was all about.
    Cancer Support Community Southwest Wisconsin is about as informative as Cancer Alliance Network, Cancer Care Alliance, Cancer Center of America, Cancer Support Network, Cancer Support Groups, Cancer Support Community Whatever … you will lost in the myriad of Cancer organizations. There was only one Gilda Radner and you would do well to continue to align yourselves with the legacy of such a strong and talented lady.