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Health Care Policies Take Spotlight at Race to Erase MS Gala Honoring Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Variety logo Variety 5/6/2017 Charles Richard
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Hope and community were strong among the celebrity guests who helped honor Jamie-Lynn Sigler on Friday at the 24th Race to Erase MS Gala at The Beverly Hilton.

Chicago headlined the benefit. Guests included music director David Foster, Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, Quincy Jones, Randy Jackson, and Lea Thompson — a longtime supporter of the annual multiple sclerosis benefit who said the initiatives are more important now amid current legislation that could jeopardize medical coverage for many Americans.

“We’re here to raise money and awareness for this disease, for people to use their influence to benefit people that are less fortunate than them, especially in this time,” said Thompson. “It’s very scary that all these things — people with pre-existing conditions… What do they do? How you get insurance and how do you take care of yourself now? It’s absolutely brutal.”

Kathy Griffin, who gave the night’s opening remarks, said she has observed a “shift change” across the country while taking her stand-up act on the road. “I’m on a 50-city tour and it’s all everyone was talking about is this administration,” Griffin said. “Yesterday’s House vote scared the hell out of everyone or any thinking, rational person,” she added. “Tonight, this room, honestly, is probably half Trump voters. Not my demo, but the good thing is everyone understands illness. Tonight the theme is MS, but the health care conversation is everywhere.”

Emotions were running high for Sigler when she tearfully accepted the honor from her dear friend, Lance Bass.

The 35-year-old, who revealed last year that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis since she was 20 years old, was recognized with the Medal of Hope award for her work raising awareness about the autoimmune disease.

“There’s nothing easy about living with MS — it affects every area of my life, but that’s why I live with hope now,” Sigler shared. The “Sopranos” star cited her husband, former pro baseball player Cutter Dykstra, and their 3-year-old son for giving her strength while battling her health woes in private.

The Race to Erase MS was founded by philanthropist Nancy Davis in 1993 after her own diagnosis with multiple sclerosis. The charity has raised more than $36 million for research programs since 1999.

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