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Gilda’s Club: U.S. Cancer Group Has A Change Of Heart & Decides To Keep Gilda Radner’s Name After Pu
January 23, 2013
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You might remember a couple of months ago, we posted a story about the late Gilda Radner, and the cancer charity 'Gilda's Club'.

Back in November, a chapter in Madison, Wisconsin announced it was dropping Gilda's name from its title, because younger patients didn't know who she was.

Instead, officials said the club would be renamed the 'Cancer Support Community Southwest Wisconsin.'

Well now, the Madison chapter has changed its mind and has decided to keep Gilda's name afterall.

In a statement, the organization's executive director, Lannia Stenz, said "Over the past few weeks we've heard from so many passionate voices about how important Gilda Radner's legacy is to our members affected by cancer."

"While we were never going to remove Gilda's likeness from our walls nor her spirit from our mission, it became clear that however well intentioned, the decision to change the name of our club was not the right decision for our community."

The group's board of directors voted unanimously to keep the name 'Gilda's Club Madison', according to board chair Wayne Harris.

The proposed name change sparked a lot of criticism online, as well as emails and calls to the charity urging it to keep Radner's name.

"We started receiving emails right away," Stenz told the Associated Press.

"For the most part it was simply asking `Why did you do this? Please reconsider.' It was really, truly passionate feedback. We had some people who were angry but at the base of everything it was the love of Gilda and her story."

gilda's-club-u.s.-cancer-group-has-a-change-of-heart-and-decides-to-keep-gilda-radner's-name-after-public-criticism-feature3.jpg Radner was one of the great comedians of her time and a legend on 'Saturday Night Live' (pictured with John Belushi & Chevy Chase)

She created iconic characters such as 'Roseanne Roseannadanna' and 'Baba Wawa', based on Barbara Walters.

Radner died in 1989 of ovarian cancer. But through it all, she dealt with her disease with dignity and laughter.

After she was diagnosed, Radner said she now had a "membership to an elite club I'd rather not belong to."

That inspired the name Gilda's Club - a series of homes for cancer patients that was founded in 1991, two years after she passed away.

"It really struck a chord with folks and all of us agreed we want people to come to Gilda's and get the help that they need," Harris told AP.

"If this is what it takes to make that happen, we're all as a group happy to make it happen."

Radner and Jane Curtain during a skit on Saturday Night Live.

"We had gotten feedback, 'Gosh, Gilda means a lot to us,' and our members said that they found comfort into coming into a Gilda's Club," Harris said.

The board's action is a result of "the outpouring of love for Gilda from our members and from the community," he added.

Harris also said the charity meant no disrespect to Radner. "In retrospect, we probably should have thought that through or understood it more," he said.

"We're not changing our name again."

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