Before changing name of Gilda's Club, learn about the origin


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Originally Posted Online: Dec. 02, 2012, 9:57 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 03, 2012, 12:22 am
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By John Marx, jmarx@qconline.com

I am one of Gilda's Club Quad-Cities biggest fans. I love its -- and all of Gilda's Club's across the nation's -- message and mission. Great work goes on behind those many red doors.

The impact Gilda's Club Quad-Cities has on the lives of families dealing with cancer, is astonishing, reaching thousands annually.

I am 54 years old and familiar with Gilda Radner, for whom Gilda's Club was named. She was an amazing comedian/actress, a gifted talent, who died 23 years ago of ovarian cancer. She was a "Saturday Night Live" legend, when "Saturday Night Live" was funny.
Every-Saturday funny.

A Madison, Wisconsin-based Gilda's Club is changing its name, because it believes those it serves cannot relate to Gilda Radner. It believes its community does not recall anything about Radner's career or her impact, leading it to believe it can better serve those in need with a more recognizable name.

Hogwash.

This is a cop-out for an organization's inability to reach and serve the public. It is not about a name.

The good news is this is not the case in the Quad-Cities, which is no surprise. Claudia Robinson, executive director of our Gilda's, gets it. She knows the work that gets done on behalf of cancer patients and the support families receives from Gilda's. She knows -- and she has been there from the start -- it is not about a name. It is about the impact Robinson and her staffers have made on families locally for two decades. It helped to have name recognition, but Robinson and staff have pounded the pavement to make Gilda's Quad-Cities go.

My advice to those not familiar with the origin of such an amazing organization -- especially those wanting to change names -- go to Google and find out about Radner. Get a book or ask someone who got to watch Radner work on "Saturday Night Live" or in movies. Buy a DVD.
She was a forerunner for women everywhere to take their comedic talents to the stage. Her husband, Gene Wilder, a tremendous actor in his own right, saw the courageous and dignified battle Radner put up against cancer. Wilder, 79, continues to support Gilda's Club and its mission.

Name changes to these kind are dicey at best. Because of huge association fees and the inability to serve Iowans, the local Easter Seals chapter became the Children's Therapy Center of the Quad-Cities a little more than a decade ago. Since, the CTC has reached amazing heights. With the money it's saved from association fees and state boundaries, it has set records for number of units of care served. It helped to have great leadership in place when a move such as this was made, but the CTC is better off without Easter Seals.

The association that guides many Gilda's Clubs across the nation, has left the decision to change up to the individual site. Here's hoping they realize a name change is not the best avenue to go, that Gilda Radner's name will open more doors than the Cancer Support Community of Southern Wisconsin.

Here's to knowing Claudia Robinson and her Gilda's Club Quad-Cities staff get it, and it's about the work behind the red door.



Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.


















 



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