Held at the Beverly Wilshire, guests raised thousands of dollars during the fundraiser by sending in texts with donations that benefited the WCRF and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. WCRF’s honorary chairs Rita Wilson, Kate Capshaw, and Steven Spielberg were in attendance, along with guests Ken Jeong, Kurt Russell, Sharon Stone, Tom Ford, Loni Love, Paris Hilton, Ben Barnes, and Liam Hemsworth. Miley Cyrus closed out the night with a performance in honor of a friend that started chemotherapy for breast cancer the day before.
“The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is the largest global funder of breast cancer research, but we’re only as good as the dollars we raise,” Myra Biblowit, the president and CEO of BCRF, told Variety on the pink carpet. “Tonight will give us more fuel to put breast cancer out of business. Since BCRF was founded, there’s been a 40% decline in breast cancer deaths.”
Jeong, who recently spoke about his wife’s battle with breast cancer on his Netflix comedy special, “You Complete Me, Ho,” encouraged the entire audience to text donations and have their names appear on screen. Immediately, dozens of donations poured in, some in excess of $10,000. Cyrus, Hemsworth, Capshaw, Spielberg, Hilton, Hudson, and Stone all made donations throughout the night.
Stone gave opening remarks for the fundraiser, praising the strong women touched by breast cancer and taking shots at President Donald Trump, who she’s criticized in the past.
“We no longer need to fear being dismissed by a single word. A ‘C’ word,” she said. “For now, in regard to women today, that letter stands for confident, capable, commanding, and courageous. Which is a refreshing thing from all of the other ‘C’ words that dominate 2019, like corruption, collusion, con artist, and comrade. Tonight is about collectively tackling, defeating, and eliminating the more dangerous ‘C’ words, one of them, most importantly, cancer.”
A breast cancer survivor herself, Wilson presented the unsung hero award to Union and the courage award to Hudson. Wilson also debuted a single on Thursday titled “Throw Me a Party” from her upcoming album, “Halfway to Home,” releasing in March. She wrote the upbeat country song after her diagnosis in 2015.
“You think everything, ‘Maybe I’m not going to make it, maybe I don’t have much time to live.’ You don’t know when you get diagnosed what the thing is, so we wrote the song that’s about what I wanted to have happen after I’m gone,” she told Variety.
Upon hearing she would receive her award, Union told Variety that the honor was “bittersweet.”
“I got into the breast health movement because my girlfriend at the age of 32 was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer,” she said. “We were just trying to find a cure for her and keep her alive. I had no idea five years later that she would lose her battle. I wanted to save my friend, and that didn’t actually work out, but in using my platform and trying to educate and inspire, I maybe saved other people’s friends and loved ones.”
Hudson spoke about the courage in accepting one’s fate during her emotional acceptance. She, like many of the guests, lost loved ones to breast cancer, including her godmother and aunt.
“I want them to know that their passing was profoundly courageous,” she said after getting choked up. “I will always utilize my platform, my businesses, and my dollars to help put an end to this disease. I want to do what I can to ensure my daughter’s generation and my son’s will not have to suffer the way many of our friends and family have.”
Cyrus began her set with her recent collaboration with Mark Ronson, “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart,” then slowed things down with a rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “River” and her classic, “The Climb.” She also rocked the stage with a performance of “My Generation” by the Who, and explained her song choice: “I’ve been saying my generation won’t take cancer for an answer, and we’re going to kick its f—ing ass and be done with this bulls—.”