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.
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 email@example.com.
Today is Friday, April 18, the 108th day of 2014. There are 257 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: A new steamer, Keithsburg, now is at our levee taking on board the balance of her fixtures preparatory to assuming her position on the daily Rock Island and Keokuk line. 1889 -- 125 years ago: C.W. Hawes was appointed deputy county clerk by county clerk Donaldson. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Mrs. O.E. child, of Moline, was named president of the Women's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church Rock Island District of the Central Illinois conference. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Augustana College is making plans for a drive for funds to erect a field house and make football field improvements. 1964 -- 50 years ago: A expanded election coverage system featuring a 16-foot chalkboard showing up to the minute running totals, attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd to The Argus newsroom last night. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Balloons frame Rock Island attorney Stewart Winstein who was given a surprise party in the rotunda of the Rock Island County Courthouse on Thursday to honor his 50th year of practicing law.