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Tears, Smiles at Sixth Annual March of Dimes Celebration of Babies Luncheon

Variety logo Variety 12/10/2016 Lawrence Yee
© Provided by Variety

“I’m not a speaker, but I am a mother,” a nervous Jennifer Hudson said while taking the mic at the March of Dimes’ sixth annual Celebration of Babies.

The Oscar and Grammy winner — and mother of a young son — was honored with the 2016 March of Dimes Grace Kelly Award at the gala luncheon Friday afternoon at the Beverly Wilshire. Kelly Rowland presented her the award.

“It is so hard — no matter what you are going through in life — to be able to see from someone else’s perspective, which means it’s so easy to overlook what others may be going through,” Hudson said. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity because it taught me about premature births and what families go through. Going to the NICU (neonatal intensive care units) and seeing their situations … it just took my heart under and through.”

For more than 75 years, mothers and babies have benefited from the non-profit organizations research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

This year’s other nominees included Prematurity Champion Dr. Mary Kerr, who was introduced by an emotional Ellen Pompeo and Monica Potter, and Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group Jody Gerson, the Inspiring Woman of the Year winner.

Kerr — an OBGYN who specializes in high-risk pregnancies — explained with humor how her sons would respond to patient calls at all hours. “No vagina talk, mommy!” they would bemoan. “I still hope any PTSD incurred is non-irreparable and I can still get grandchildren out of them one day,” Kerr joked.

Gerson, who was introduced by her son Julian, talked about her own heartbreaking struggles with miscarriage and her second son Luke’s first few days in the NICU. “Every parent deserves a healthy child, and every child deserves a healthy life,” she added.

Tears flowed as other families shared their stories of children born prematurely or with birth defects.

Attendees gave generously, with the luncheon earning over $1.4 million to help improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Other attendees included Bryce Dallas Howard, Elizabeth Banks, Derek Hough, Brian Grazer and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

The event was emceed by Nick Cannon, whose twins Moroccan and Monroe were delivered by ex-wife Mariah Carey at 35 weeks. Celebration of Babies was co-chaired by Jimmy Horowitz, President of Universal Pictures, and his wife Joi, along with producer Wyck Godfrey.


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