After his performance at the Help Group Teddy Bear Ball, Common lingered in the crowd shaking hands and taking pictures with anyone who came up to him. The happiness he felt from performing for a good cause was clear on his face, as he stayed around long after the actual event had ended. It was that kind of night at the Beverly Hilton on Monday night as the Help Group, the largest nonprofit in the United States dedicated to helping young people with autism and special needs realize their potential, put on quite a show in the 19th annual iteration of the ball.
Mark Greenberg, the president and CEO of Epix, was the guest of honor at the dinner as he was presented with the Help Humanitarian Award for his extensive work with the program helping children.
Greenberg spoke about the importance of the foundation. “Incredible organizations like this take care of people, help people through their disabilities and their challenges,” Greenberg said. “They’re working with close to 1600 kids here in Los Angeles and many more beyond that in terms of after school programs, giving people a chance to be successful in life. How can you not fall in love with what they do?”
The night started off with a performance of “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by former lead singer of the Temptations Louis Price and a choir of the foundation’s students. Hosted by comedian Tom Papa, the rest of the night proceeded with speeches by different members of the foundation, other performances by the students choir, and two auctions.
The night was topped off by Common’s performance, again accompanied by the full choir of special needs students, as he deviated from the usual lyrics of his Oscar-winning song “Glory” to freestyle rap about his appreciation for the cause, the students, and everyone in attendance that night.
The guests in attendance were equally excited about both honoring Greenberg and the impending performance by Common.
Leland Orser, star of “Berlin Station” on Epix, spoke about his appreciation of Greenberg. “[He] is an amazing individual. He is a rare gentleman of integrity and warmth and kindness in this business,” Orser said. “With his channel, it seems like he’s on a mission. With his original programming, there’s an investigation and discussion of the truth and what the truth means to us individually, as a nation and as a human race.”
Papa, who, along with being the host for the evening, also has had two standup specials on Epix, echoed similar excitement for Common’s performance. “All day, I’ve been trying to figure out how can I tell Common in a credible way that this goofy white guy has been moved by his music for so long,” he said. “And it’s probably going to come out terrible, but I’m going to try.”