Kevin Huvane would like to remind you that Jennifer Lopez is still Jenny from the block.
“As a little girl, (Jennifer) raised money for the March of Dimes,” said Celebration of Babies Luncheon co-chair Huvane, during Dec. 6’s $1 million-fundraiser for March of Dimes. “So just picture this: an 8-year-old force of nature out in the Bronx with her parents. … She now uses her celebrity to advocate the voices that have no microphones, no flashbulbs, no paparazzi.”
This year’s Celebration of Babies luncheon feted Lopez with the Grace Kelly Award, named A&E Networks president-CEO Nancy Dubuc the Inspiring Woman of the Year and honored Dr. Balaji Govindaswami, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s NICU director, with the Advocacy & Government Affairs Volunteer Champion Award on Dec. 6 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Kelly was one of Tinseltown’s earliest March of Dimes advocates.
“As a kid, Grace Kelly was a woman who I thought I knew well because my mother worshiped her in movies,” Lopez said. “To a little girl growing up in the Bronx, no one could seem more alluring or glamorous. I knew she was beautiful and a famous actress. I knew she was a princess. I knew that we lost her tragically too soon. In every way, she and I couldn’t have been more different.”
But Lopez, mother to twins Max and Emme, said she grew up to recognize Kelly as “just another mother” committed to improving the health of babies — a passion that Lopez now shares.
“She had the same fears, wishes, dreams that we all do,” Lopez said. “And when she looked into that beautiful little face, maybe she realized, like I did when my children were born, it’s not just about me anymore or how I look or feel, but that there was something now, something new that defined you as a person.”
According to Huvane, Lopez’s charity, the Lopez Family Foundation, has created telemedicine and portable ultrasound programs at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, in addition to setting up a pediatric residency exchange with the hospital. Lopez was also the honorary chair of 2009’s March for Babies in Miami.
“Jen is so deserving of the award named after Grace Kelly,” he said. “Why? Both came to Hollywood to fulfill their dreams. One’s from the Bronx, one’s from Philly. Grace was European royalty, Jennifer is Hollywood royalty. But most importantly, like Grace Kelly, Jennifer is a ferocious advocate for the March of Dimes and babies. And like Grace Kelly, she believes her most important role in life is being a mother and a protector of kids.”
Huvane told the crowd of attendees that included Lopez’s beau Casper Smart and celeb parents Molly Sims, Julia Ormond, host Nick Cannon, Josh Duhamel, Chris Pratt and Mark Paul Gosselaar that Jimmy Horowitz, the president of Universal Pictures who chairs the annual event with his wife Joi, signed his emails “JHo” and “Jimmy from the block” when trying to convince Huvane during their correspondence to encourage his client Lopez to accept the award.
When Dubuc took the stage, she told the crowd to expect waterworks.
“Fair warning, I cried in rehearsal and there are many people in this room that would probably like to see me cry,” she joked.
The mother of two said she had to leave her son in the hospital for two days after giving birth so she couldn’t fathom the severity of the pain parents of a premature baby are forced to endure.
“This past holiday weekend, we were vacationing with another family and our (daughter) Alice and the other couple’s daughter became fast and inseparable friends,” she said. “The exact same age, but not by any means the exact same path. Their daughter was born at just three pounds and spent 64 days in the ICU. My daughter was born a little over 10.5 pounds and walked out of the hospital.”