Mingling with guests at the Rape Foundation’s annual brunch on Sunday, a genial Milo Ventimiglia held out his hand to introduce himself — never mind that those who approached already appeared to recognize the “This Is Us” star.
To those requesting selfies, he cheerfully complied, holding out their camera phones and posing with them, although noting that he finds the word “selfie” narcissistic and prefers the term “photograph.”
More than honorees, the cast members of the NBC hit series, including Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley and Susan Kelechi Watson, served as hosts of this year’s annual benefit for the Rape Treatment Center and for Stuart House at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.
Amid towering cypress trees and the blooming rose bushes at entrepreneur Ron Burkle’s Greenacres estate in Beverly Hills, guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before adjourning to a tent for the program. Taking note of the toasty weather, event emcee David Schwimmer joked, “Sorry about the temperature here. It should warm up in just a minute.”
One by one, the honorees took turns at the podium, starting with Moore, who called her visit to the center last week “incredibly insightful and incredibly powerful,” citing the thought behind every aspect of treatment, “privacy, safety, medical care, forensics, therapy, all of the things that are so vital and so important to someone who has been raped.”
All praised the treatment center for its quality of medical care, attention to privacy, skilled therapists, coordination between police and other professionals, educational outreach programs and more.
“Do I have a time limit?” asked Brown, referencing his speech being cut off as he accepted his award during the recent Primetime Emmy Awards, before launching into his tribute.
Among others at the sold-out affair were actors Elizabeth Olsen, T.R. Knight, Eva LaRue and Joanna Kerns, TV producer Byron Allen, songwriter Diane Warren, attorney Gloria Allred, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. Treatment center founder Gail Abarbanel attended, and two assault victims spoke of their experiences as people in the audience held back tears.
Abarbanel told the “This Is Us” honorees: “Your show is teaching America about empathy, and empathy is the foundation for moral character and social responsibility, kindness and good relationships. … It’s a message to every kid and adult in our country.”
About 900 guests paid $350 each for tickets. Before the brunch ended, Eric McCormack ascended the stage to request contributions and immediately had three guests volunteer $100,000. Counting all additional donations, organizers estimated total proceeds at $900,000.
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