The Crowd:

Women speak on autism, Alzheimer’s

May 12, 2010|By B.W. Cook

They call themselves “Fearless Women.” Last week the “mothers and daughters who move mountains” joined with husbands and other assorted male companions for a luncheon at the Resort at Pelican Hill. They came to raise funds benefiting two very different medical needs: autism and Alzheimer’s disease. And, they came to hear the inspirational message of two close friends, both personalities from the world of television: Leeza GibbonsLeeza Gibbons and Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson. Both champion the search for help on behalf of autistic children and adults fighting dementia associated with Alzheimer’s.

Gibbons, best known for her on-camera hosting roles on TV’s “Entertainment Tonight” and then on her own “Leeza Show,” can be heard on a nationally broadcast radio program, “Hollywood Confidential.” Additionally, Gibbons has established an organization know as Leeza’s Place, which is dedicated to serving people suffering from memory loss. Leeza’s Place was created in memory of Gibbons’ mother and grandmother, both of whom succumbed to Alzheimer’s. She has written a book, “Take Your Oxygen First,” in response to the path of caring for a loved one with the disease.


Alspaugh-Jackson, Gibbons’ dynamic best pal and former producer of Gibbons’ TV show shared the stage and spoke about her very intimate and personal struggle with coming to terms with her young son’s onset of autism. Alspaugh-Jackson is dedicated to an organization known as ACT (Autism Cure and Treatment) Today, which is working to raise funds and awareness relating to autism.

The two women put on quite a performance, bouncing back and forth sharing intimate and emotional personal life details mixed with comedic relief. Their message was filled with self-help instruction.

“Escape is easier than change,” said Gibbons, adding a quote from Wayne Dyer, “If you change the way you look at things, things you look at will change.”

Alspaugh-Jackson reminded the audience that “choice, not chance” is what makes a difference in life.

“Let go of the life you think you must lead so that you can embrace the life that is waiting for you,” she said.

Both told the audience to be bold and “fearless” seeking what they called the Three Es – education, empowerment and energy.

A significant part of their message centered on the power of passion of true friendship.

“A good friend will sing your song back to you when you have forgotten your music,” Gibbons said.

The Pelican Hill luncheon was produced by Laura Marroquin with dedicated assistance from very serious volunteers. Some of the deserving included Trish Coury, Jill Epstein, Liz Martin, Susan Neas, Kathy Ursini, and Jennifer and J. Ocana. Also involved were Lisa Bancroft, Ilene Fedar, Tamara Hepper, Kim Rice, Sue Taylor and Amy Zhang, to name a few.

Special guests included Doreen Granpeesheh, founder of ACT Today, Poita and Bill Cernius, Marie-France Lefebvre and her daughter, Sophie Kubichek, Catherine Emmie, Shelley Volner and her parents Sandy and David Stone, donors of a surprise gift of $100,000 made on behalf of David Stone’s late business partner.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays.

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