“Sobriety to me is a gift,” Will Arnett said upon receiving the Spirit of Sobriety Award at the Brent Shapiro Foundation Summer Spectacular. “It’s something that I was fortunate enough to be able to receive and I’m very, very grateful on a daily basis. Sobriety has touched so many people, not just me but so many people in my life, my kids, my family. I have been on the receiving end of a lot of kindness in my life and that kindness is what has allowed me to be here tonight passing the message on to others who need help.”
Arnett credited the men and women he had met at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings all over the world with helping him maintain his sobriety. “Community is the opposite of addiction,” Arnett said. “The more conversations we can have, the more people we can help. The Brent Shapiro Foundation is starting that conversation really early and that is a great, great thing.”
Following the loss of their son Brent to a drug overdose in 2005, Robert and Linell Shapiro created the Brent Shapiro Foundation in honor of his memory and to raise awareness for drug prevention and promote early education for children on the dangers of substance abuse. Held at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday night, the annual gala fundraiser celebrated the foundation’s 14th year and featured a cocktail reception, a three-course meal, samba dancers, a live auction and performances by Pia Toscano and Sheila E.
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Eva Longoria, a longtime friend of the Shapiro family, hosted the gala, which commenced with a moment of silence for Brent and others lost to addiction. “I do want to say as a new mother, this foundation and what they are doing is extremely important and it’s why we are here tonight,” Longoria told the assembled guests. “The work that Bob and Linell have done over the last 14 years is remarkable and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Toscano also paid tribute to the Shapiros’ work ahead of her performance. “I think we all can agree that you guys are just angels,” Toscano said. “You have done so much. Through unfortunate circumstances, you have turned your pain into such a passionate purpose and you guys are saving so many lives.”
On the red carpet, Linell Shapiro told Variety that she was delighted with the foundation’s growth over the years and offered her advice for parents. “I think early education is a big key,” Shapiro said. “Being with your kids, being open about it, talking about drugs and their influences. I think if you start young enough, people lots of times don’t want to do that but if you start young enough and put it in the right way, it will really stay with a child.”
Evan Ross said that as a father, the foundation’s mission was especially meaningful to him. “Bob Shapiro has been a close friend of my family and my mom (Diana Ross) has been working with him for many years,” Ross told Variety. “We also know that what they are doing is so important. I have children now too, so I want to help be a part of it. My and my wife (Ashlee Simpson), she wanted to be here tonight but she’s with the kids, but we both support this foundation so much because we know what’s going on in the world right now. We have to bring more awareness so young people can learn from a lot of our mistakes.”