The second annual Rebels With a Cause gala Thursday raised more than $9 million thanks to honoree Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO and co-founder, as he matched donations with $4.5 million of his own.
Hosted at Paramount Pictures Studios, the event supported the cancer research done by Dr. David Agus and the USC Center for Applied Medicine.
“How much did we raise here this evening?” asked Ellison while accepting the Rebels With a Cause Award, “$4.5? OK, I’d like to match that.”
CEO of Paramount Pictures and co-chair of the event Brad Grey has been working with Agus for the past three years and said, “We call out our friends (and) we asked them to come support this. We hope to raise a great deal of money and we hope to make that money exponential in years to come.”
Sporting his famous hat, Pharrell Williams kicked off the night with his Oscar-nominated song “Happy,” as the crowd danced and sang along.
Late-night host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel emceed the gala and brought his usual humor.
“Dr. Agus is doing incredible things in the fight against cancer, and he needs our help and by our help I mean your help because I’m not usually much help with anything,” Kimmel said.
Anna Kendrick and Jonah Hill read aloud personal letters from cancer survivors whose lives were changed by Agus.
“I went bald from the chemo. When you know you’re going to lose your hair, you think, ‘I hope look good bald.’ Then you say, ‘Maybe I look good in hats.’ But vanity goes out the window when you’re fighting for your life,” Kendrick read. “Today’s March 20, 2014, and I’m still alive —Robin Quivers.”
Agus said he feels privileged from the support he’s getting from the entertainment industry and technology industry in order to help in the fight against cancer.
“It’s getting these remarkable role models to step up and say cancer is not a bad word. We all have to take it head on,” he said. “Cancer has been around since the Egyptian mummies, we need to take a stand against this horrible disease together.”
Grey announced that a transformational cancer institute will be built in L.A. with plans to provide the most cutting-edge and ground-breaking medicine available.
Barry Manilow closed out the night by performing his hit songs “I Made It Through the Rain” and “Copacabana.”
It was a star-studded evening with guests including Grey’s wife and co-chair, Cassandra Grey, David Foster, Jerry Bruckheimer, Carole Bayer Sager and Bob Daly, Chris Pine, January Jones, Molly Shannon, B.J. Novak, Jennifer Missoni, Bob Saget, John Stamos, Robert Evans, Alice Eve, Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, Linda Ramone and Rob Moore.
(Pictured: Marc Benioff, Larry Ellison, Brad Grey and David Ellison at the Rebels With a Cause gala at Paramount Studios.)