Some of Hollywood’s most spotlighted stars came out for The Art of Elysium’s 5th Annual Heaven Gala Saturday night to shine the spotlight on kids who may not always feel lit up. Rachel Bilson, Kirsten Dunst, Topher Grace, Brittany Snow, David Arquette, Minka Kelly, Ali Larter, Molly Sims, Dave & Odette Annabelle, Sophia Bush and Busy Phillips were just of few of the celebrities who attended the event at The Downtown Los Angeles Historic Union Station and spoke highly of their involvement in the organization which encourages actors, artists and musicians to voluntarily dedicate their time and talent to children battling serious medical conditions.
Elijah Wood was the night’s honoree receiving the Spirit of Elysium Award. While Wood has been involved with the non-profit for a few years, he says his first time in seeing the impact art can have on kids still stands out to him. “The first experience of working with the children in the hospital: there’s nothing quite like that. And just sort of seeing how they respond. We were doing a Polaroid project and when a Polaroid’s developing you can actually continue to draw on it; and just seeing the kids take to the project, take ownership over it and get creative was just beautiful”, said Wood.
Beautiful is also the work Brittany Snow does with The Art of Elysium. The former Harry’s Law actress teamed up with Microsoft to develop computers for kids who are on kidney dialysis. “I feel like this is such a beautiful cause and I feel like I really have to support what they’re behind because it is so important to just be present for these kids and for really anybody who enjoys the arts and feels that this is a good way to invest their time and life. I’m really, really honored that I get to be here every year.”
Snow also spoke about the invaluable benefits coming from a program with the charity that she participates in to help raise the self-esteem of girls. “I’ve been working with the Girl Talk program and it was three years ago that I did a fashion show with them, I was the speaker, and to get to see those girls put on a fashion show and a hip-hop routine. And it was really about self-empowerment and how they could showcase themselves with confidence and get to perform for their families; it was really just so touching to see how confident they were and that it came from such an inward place and not just based out of their beauty but what they could actually bring to the experience. I just found that remarkable and I remember just afterwards just being so touched. I was really grateful that I could be there,” said Snow, who regularly volunteers for the hospital.
Once Upon A Time star Jennifer Morrison also showed gratitude in being a part of the charity and echoed Snow and Wood’s beliefs on the importance of bringing smiles to the children’s faces through art. “I was lucky enough to be introduced to it through friends of mine and any little bit that I can do to support something that I know is doing such great stuff for the children is something that I will take the time to do”, said Morrison.
The Heaven Gala was created to celebrate artists who provide outstanding support to the foundation each year through their vision and spirit. Past honorees have included Kirsten Diunst, Eva Mendes and James Franco.
Abigal Spencer, Kelly Osbourne, Amy Smart, Josh Bowman, Alicia Witt, Jamie King and Rachel Harris were also a part of the gala that had the children involved walk the red carpet.
The Art of Elysium, founded in 1997 by Jennifer Howell, provides workshops for kids emphasizing on arts and creativity through programs for hospitalized youth focusing on Fashion Design, Fine Arts, Music, Self-Esteem and Theater Arts.
Finola Hughes shared a special moment with a kid during one of those workshops that showed the significance art ca have on a child going through a difficult time. “We were working with the children and this little boy had really been having a rough time and he just started to laugh and it was just so cool,” Hughes said. “Art can certainly take children out of what they’re going through. “