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For media inquiries,
please contact:
Jenica Lancy,
Director of Communications,
(415) 967-2572 (ALSA)
2014 Gala (White)

The Golden West Chapter to Honor Gary Cooper for “Pride of the Yankees”and
for Raising International Awareness About ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

April 4,, 2014- Los Angeles, California

Gary Cooper with daughter Maria
Gary Cooper, with his daughter Maria,
at home on her birthday

The ALS Association Golden West Chapter cordially invites you at our Hollywood Red Carpet Gala for an evening of elegance, dedicated to conquering ALS. A Night At The Esseys will be held on Thursday, June 5, 2014 at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, home to the first Academy Awards ceremony, and feature a wine & champagne reception; live orchestra; gourmet dinner; and live and silent auctions.  The Essey Awards are the Golden West Chapter’s highest honor, named for one of the Greater Bay Area Chapter’s founding members, Richard Essey, and are presented annually to esteemed members of the ALS community for their outstanding efforts in research, philanthropy and public awareness. 

Among this year’s honorees, the Golden West Chapter will present an inaugural Legacy Award to the late Gary Cooper for his unforgettable, Oscar-nominated portrayal of the “Iron Horse”, Lou Gehrig, in the Academy-award winning film "The Pride of the Yankees".  This marks the first time that Cooper has been recognized for his contribution towards raising ALS awareness throughout the world and its indelible role in the public understanding about the disease. 

“The ALS community will be forever grateful for the continued impact that Cooper’s portrayal of Lou Gehrig has in increasing knowledge about ALS”, said Fred Fisher, President and CEO of The ALS Association Golden West Chapter.  “It serves as a poignant reminder that anyone diagnosed with ALS is first and foremost- a person, with loved ones, dreams, and unfulfilled ambitions in their lives. Gehrig himself said ‘I have an awful lot to live for’ and Cooper’s compassionate performance has help that statement to connect with audiences”. 

Originally released in 1942, The Pride of the Yankees is a tribute to the legendary New York Yankees’ first baseman, who died at age 37 from ALS, only one year before the film was released.  Gehrig’s tragic decline and premature death had such deep influence that the disease soon after became known to many as "Lou Gehrig's Disease".  Cooper’s stirring performance has earned film a spot on many “Best Films” lists, by both film historians and movie lovers.

Even today, seventy-five years after Gehrig’s farewell speech, Cooper‘s stirring performance continues to bring this historical moment to life for millions of movie-goers around the world.  His daughter, Maria Cooper Janis, will be accepting the award on his behalf.  “I know my father would be so humbly grateful and honored to accept this Legacy Award,” shared Ms. Cooper-Janis.  “My father always felt embarrassed by praise, and particularly when it was heaped upon him for portraying noble people, Someone once asked him, ‘What it’s like to play Lou Gehrig, Sergeant Alvin York, Captain Billy Mitchell?’, to which he answered, 'I just do the best I can, but I can't imagine what it must be like to really be a hero.' "

“Today, there is much for people with ALS and their families to be hopeful for,” said Fisher. "While at this time, there is no known cure for ALS, receiving excellent care has been shown to lengthen and improve people’s quality of life significantly and there have been significant progress in the field of ALS research. The ALS community still has far more questions than answers.  But our great hope is that we will have the technology that will not only help us to better understand ALS but also find effective treatments to halt its relentless progression.”

For more information about sponsorship opportunities, tickets or submit a tribute for the program, please visit our Gala webpage or contact: Giovanna D'Angelo Director of Special Events, or (818) 865-8067.