Amusement park rides, cotton candy and games galore provided the backdrop for Sunday’s 15th annual Mattel Party on the Pier benefiting Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. The Milken Family Foundation, Goldhirsh-Yellin Foundation, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and Wolfgang Puck Catering were among the sponsors of the Santa Monica event, where kids could pose for pictures with a real-life Barbie impersonator, sip beverages from a VIP soda bar and take a spin on the Ferris wheel to their heart’s content, all while raising money for a good cause.
Gellar, who brought her five-year-old daughter along for the fun — “She has been riding the rides like a fiend!” — appreciates firsthand the top-notch care provided by the hospital for families who travel there from all over the world.
“Once you have kids you realize that the thought of your child being ill is the most frightening experience,” said the actress, most recently seen on CBS’ “The Crazy Ones.” “What Mattel provides, not just for the kids that are ill, but for the siblings and the families, is unparalleled. I was on a play date with a friend and the child fell and we had to go to the emergency room and we went to Mattel Children’s Hospital, so I have personal experience with the hospital and the care that they give and you can’t do that without the funding.”
As a longtime volunteer at the hospital, Gellar has a personal investment in the pediatric patients.
“Some of these kids are bedridden, they can’t get out of bed, so you’re just going to play Connect Four with them for two hours and it just makes such a difference in their life,” she said. “If I can make one hour of their life go faster then that’s my job. The parents and everyone — they are so strong. I take more from those visits than they do from me.”
Rico Rodriguez, who plays Manny Delgado on ABC’s “Modern Family,” happily posed for photos with fans while enjoying the festivities.
“It’s all about having fun with the kids,” he said of his desire to help out Mattel’s Children’s Hospital UCLA. “It’s amazing.”
In the autograph tent — filled with such silent auction items as birthday party packages and American Girl dolls — Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World” stars Rowan Blanchard, who plays Riley, and Sabrina Carpenter, who plays her best friend, Maya, were all smiles as they greeted fans.
“What makes this so special is that we’re all here for a good cause and at the same time we’re all having fun so it’s a great way to spread the message,” said Blanchard. “Everyone can go on rides and play games while raising money, so it’s a great event.”