A Vision of Hope

When the curtain closed on Gilda Radner’s brilliant career and even brighter life, the world mourned the loss of an amazing talent. Although ovarian cancer took her life, it would never take her spirit or her sense of humor, and these traits that made her a star now live on across the world in Gilda’s Club.

Started by husband, Gene Wilder, and Joanna Bull, her cancer psychotherapist, in 1991, Gilda’s Club provides cancer patients and their families a free place to go for not only support, but also for education and networking. 

“Gilda wanted a place where everyone could go to learn more about their disease and how to live with it,” says Mary Linna Woods, founder of the Kansas City club. “She recognized that cancer happens to the whole family, so Gilda’s Club is really a place anyone who is affected by cancer can come to meet people who are dealing with similar circumstances and to create community.”

At Gilda’s Club, trained staff can assist participants in designing their own customized membership plan utilizing the different aspects of the Gilda’s Club program. From Noogieland, a program designed for children living with cancer, to lectures and workshops, each Gilda’s Club offers a wide range of resources. 

“We recognize that each situation, just like each type of cancer, is different, and we want Gilda’s Club to be a place everyone can utilize,” says Woods. “Gilda wanted to ensure that no one face cancer alone, so part of the mission is to offer social and emotional support. We want people to recognize the language we use at Gilda’s Club. It’s not about fighting or battling cancer, it’s about a positive attitude and a sense of humor. While we stress positivism, we, like Gilda, recognize that members are experiencing a wide range of emotions, and we want them to know that it is okay and that we are here for them.”

Hoping to settle in a central location, Gilda’s Club Kansas City will be located just north of the Plaza when it opens in early 2010.

“We wanted to create a home-like environment that was easy to get to for everyone,” Woods emphasizes. “We are close to bus lines and public transportation, and we hope that this will encourage more people to join our family.”

Gilda’s Club will be located at 21 W. 43rd Street in Kansas City, Mo. and is a non-profit organization. For more information or to donate time, money or professional services to Gilda’s Club KC, please contact Mary Linna Woods at (913) 663-3536 or visit www.gildasclubkc.org. 

words: Katy O’Donovan