Raising Money for Cancer Research
By: Angela Redding
Photos: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.
Los Angeles, CA, (The Hollywood Times) 10/05/2019–Brooke Besikof, played a young Elsa in New York in the Broadway production of “Frozen” for their Staged Reading and Development Lab at the age of 14. The Newport Beach, California native’s life and career were moving forward when she received shocking news. Brooke was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a rare cancer of the lymph system. “When I was first diagnosed, I was in shock,” states Besikof. “I thought about all the times I had come to the hospital to visit other children and now it was me. I didn’t allow myself to be sad for long, instead, I decided to fight.”
And fight she did! Brooke is now 16 years old, a cancer survivor, actively pursuing her acting and music career and an advocate for other children battling cancer. She received treatment at CHLA to help eradicate the disease that was aggressively attacking her body. Brooke is now a Teen Ambassador for the hospital that helped her overcome cancer.
The 10th annual T. J. Martell LA Family Day, presented by Citi and sponsored by The Grove and Caruso took place on Saturday, October 5, 2019, at The Grove in Los Angeles, CA. Brooke attended the three hour event as a guest speaker and was one of the first to arrive and walk the carpet. She stopped to talk with us and shared her thoughts on the event and offered some words of encouragement for any young person or anyone fighting cancer.
THT: “Being diagnosed with cancer is and can be unsettling news for anyone. Having gone through being diagnosed with cancer, receiving treatment and coming out victorious on the other side, what advice would you give to anyone who receives a cancer diagnosis or who may be battling the disease?”
“I think I would tell them, first of all, it’s okay to be sad. Hearing news like that is incredibly shocking. For me what helped was I changed my mindset. I can either sit here and be sad and relish on this time I’m having or I could focus on the positive and only look towards fighting this disease and getting to the end of it.
I think the second I was able to change my mindset, I was able to fight it quicker and soon enough, I was in remission. I think that mind over body is something so incredibly important and keeping that positive mindset is crucial in a situation like that.” Brooke Besikof
Brooke has dedicated herself to raising research funds for pediatric cancer and says, “Even though it seems impossible, if you can rewire your mind to only think about being in remission, I think it makes the rest worth it because you’re living (alive) at the end of it.”
The Martell Foundation is known for being the music industry’s largest foundation that funds cancer research and hosting a day of fun, music, games and food as they raise money for cancer research at CHLA.
Cancer is a serious subject but as a way to lift spirits and raise funds to stamp out the disease, The T.J. Martell LA Family Day event, which was started in 1998 in New York, gave those in attendance the opportunity to meet and greet some of their favorite stars from the small screen and from the music industry.
As guests and talent entered the private entrance of The Historic Adobe at The Grove, which is located near the Wood Ranch BBQ Grill restaurant, they immediately came face to face with balloons, streamers, a rock wall and carnival booths all inviting, no, beckoning them to come in and enjoy themselves as they helped raise much needed funds to fight against cancer.
As the event started, the carpet was pleasantly smooth. Celebrities casually walked down the carpet posing for photos, answering questions, and giving specific media outlet shout outs, when asked.
The calm did not last long. Suddenly, the noise level went up a few decibels.
JoJo Siwa, JD McCrary and Ally Brooke all seem to arrive at the same time and took over the arrival area. Fans, previously occupied at one of the carnival booths located a few feet away from the blue carpet, began to crowd around the arrival area in hopes of getting a glimpse of and hopefully a chance to take a picture with the young and gifted talent being interviewed.
JoJo did not disappoint–especially style wise. She wore a very patriotic looking outfit and had a giant sparkling red, silver/white and aqua marine blue star painted over and around her right eye.
JoJo gleefully states, “I feel like Yankee Doodle today!”
We did manage to talk with each of them and others guests amidst the high energy all around us and the fan frenzy brought on by the very popular threesome.
The event was a celebration of families spending time together so we asked those who walked the carpet how they and their family members stay connected with each other.
THT: September 26th was/is national family day. How do you and your family stay connected?
Josh Server: “My family lives in Chicago, mostly. I don’t have a ton of family in California. We try to take trips… I try to go back home a lot and keep those family roots going. I have a very small family– we make a lot of phone calls, group texts and (that’s how) people stay connected. We try to take a couple of family trips a year.”
JoJo Siwa: “My family is amazing. We have, we love to just do everything together. Me and my brother, we like to go skydiving together and play monopoly together. Me and my mom, we talk about everything together. My dad, (smiles affectionately) my dad is just my dad, He is hilarious. We come up with jokes together and laugh together… my family is my family and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”
JD McCrary: “What my family and I do to stay connected as a family is we pray together and thank God for all of our blessings. That’s all we really need to do. We do that everyday.”
Ally Brooke: “Whenever I can go home to Texas, we always get together at one of my aunts’ house or cousins’ house and have a big family cookout. We cook lots of Mexican food… they’re on the grill and we dance and laugh and have a good time.”
Music icon Mary Wilson, former Supreme, attended the event and walked the blue carpet. Wilson said she was there to support her Dancing With the Stars cast-mate and friend, Ally Brooke.
The Martell organization presented Doug Cohn, Senior Vice President of music and talent at Nickelodeon, with the LA Family Day Visionary Award which was presented to him by his longtime friend, music icon Debbie Gibson.
Doug Palladini, Global Brand President at Vans, was also honored with the Legacy Award.
Without a doubt, the event was a great success raising funds to aide research to end cancer. Vans and Netflix goodie bags were given to children under the age of 16. Over 400 adults and children attended the event.
T.J. Martell LA Family Day Celebrity Attendees
Top row (L-R) Rachael Leigh Cook, Jayden Bartels, cast members of “All That” (L-R) Reece Caddell, Nathan Janak, Gabrielle Green, Lex Lumpkin, Kate Godfrey, Ryan Alessi, and Chinguun Sergelen
Bottom row (L-R) Legacy Benjamin and Cori Benjamin, Jeremy Maguire, Kendra Erika, Sophie Rose, Scarlet Spencer
All who came out to support the T.J. Martell Foundation’s fight against cancer were treated to a mini concert by Ally Brooke, JoJo Siwa and JD McCrary.
Live and Onstage
For more information on the T.J. Martell Foundation, LA Family Day visit www.tjmartell.org
T.J. Martell Foundation LA Family Day
Saturday, October 5, 2019
The Grove Los Angeles, CA
12:00 PM – Doors Open, Celebrity Red-Carpet, Games and Special Activities*
1:00 PM – Stage Open, Mini-Concerts
1:30 PM – Remarks, Award Presentations, Performances Continue, Live Auction
3:00 PM – Event Ends
*Throughout the event