Let me start by saying, I didn’t attend the 2012 Inspiration Awards as press. I went as an invited guest along with friends, fellow actresses Lexi Ainsworth (General Hospital) and Amy Lawhorn (Gone). But when you attend something that is so…well, inspiring, as this, there is no way I could not share the experience with the Press Pass LA fans.
The evening took place at the impressive UCLA Royce Hall and its mission was to celebrate women from diverse backgrounds who have inspired a nation. The Inspiration Awards were founded by Sky Andrew and this event marked the second show in Los Angeles, having completed five events in London. The event was produced in partnership and to benefit Susan G. Komen, Los Angeles County, and Senhoa.
The evening was hosted by E! Entertainment’s Ashlan Gorse, with a star-studded red carpet hosted by Callie Stydahar. It included a silent auction, cocktail party, and performances by Choir Ensemble including songs like Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” and Brandi Carlile’s “The Story”. Highlights included trumpet performances by Matt Von Roderick, a music video of the adorable D’Ambrosio twins and their song “Let Your Light Shine”, and performance by child star Lauren Braganza singing Katy Perry’s “Firework” which opened the show. Not to be outdone by her peers, tween Kalliana King wowed the audience when taking the stage twice to accept awards for her efforts to help those with muscular dystrophy. She garnered media attention when she shaved her head to honor a friend in treatment and went on to raise over $14,000 for the cause.
The evening also featured a speech by Susan G. Komen’s Mark Pilon describing the organization’s mission to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease. He was joined on stage by a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed in her late twenties. She shared her inspiring story of facing and overcoming this disease at such a young age and reminded women of the importance of early detection. She had everyone in the audience turn to their neighbor and tell each other to “treasure your chest”. This had the audience in laughts but really drove home the importance of being aware of your own body and spreading the message to those around you.
One of the most inspiring portions of the evening included a video of the work being done by Senhoa, an organization that supports survivors of human trafficking by providing income-generating opportunities, social reintegration, and programs for self-empowerment. After the show, Executive Director Lisa Nguyen explained to me how important it is for these women to learn a skill like jewelry-making and that nothing could be more fulfilling than seeing them create a stunning piece of jewelry. I was so moved that I purchased a one of a kind set of earrings hand-made by these strong women.
But perhaps, the most breath-taking moment of the night came when Most Aspirational Award winner Jessica A. Cox took the stage. Jessica was born with a rare birth defect that caused her to not have any arms. She has gone on to be an unrestricted licensed driver and scuba diver, and as if that wasn’t impressive enough, the first person without arms to be a licensed pilot. She left the audience with these words, “If I can fly a plane, what is it you can’t do?”
Overall it was a beautiful evening. Perhaps, celebrity Lisa Vanderpump who won the award for Style & Elegance said it best. She told the audience years from now she won’t remember that she won the award for Style & Elegance but she will remember the amazing women in the room today that have so inspired her. She went on to say that in a world where women often cut each other down, it is truly something special to have an event like tonight.
Other celebrities in attendance included presenters Actress-Designer-DJ Taryn Manning, Glee’s Ashley Fink and Max Adler, Twilight’s Christian Serratos, Hollywood Exes’ Daphne Wayans, Make It or Break It’s Cassie Scerbo, WBC World Championship Contender- fighter David ‘Nino’ Rodriguez, Model-Designer Jan Ahlgren, and more.
We closed out the evening with the “Lifetime Achievement” Award which went posthumously to Nora Ephron, best known for writing beloved films When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.
To see a full list of winners, please visit InspirationAwards.us