Famous people filled the Riviera Country Club, a scenic golf resort in affluent Pacific Palisades, Calif.
A city block away, Sunset Boulevard runs toward the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Monica Mountains overlook it all. Inside the Riviera, during a 2009 fundraising dinner, Terre Haute attorney Tony Tanoos found himself surrounded by a who’s who of celebrities — actors such as Ray Romano, Mark Wahlberg, Don Cheadle and others, and golfing greats like Gary Player, Johnny Miller and Rocco Mediate. Soon, the crowd of notables heard the words of main speaker Lisa Paulsen, the president of the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
Her nonprofit organization raises funds for nearly 200 charitable causes, especially cancer research programs. That list includes Stand Up To Cancer, an initiative designed to generate resources to fast-track new therapies to patients. Paulsen and her EIF staff co-founded Stand Up To Cancer in 2008. Ovarian cancer claimed her mother’s life in 2008. Paulsen’s dad died of lung cancer in 2003.
“They were kind of like my North Star,” Paulsen said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles last month. “I was really lucky to come from such an amazing family.”
Paulsen tells a compelling story. Terre Haute plays a huge role in it. It’s where Paulsen and her sister, Lori, grew up. It’s where her late parents, Kenneth and Norma Coleman lived and passed away. It’s the home of a medical treatment facility, the Coleman Cancer Center, named in honor of Kenneth, a Tribune-Star printer for 37 years, and Norma, a clerk for 30 years at the Vigo County Public Library. Norma was battling her cancer when the center was dedicated in 2007, and the newspaper captured the moment on its front page, “which was a thrill to her,” Paulsen said.
As Paulsen explained her life’s mission at that 2009 golf fundraiser in California, the audience at the Riviera five years ago listened intently. Tanoos, a friend of Paulsen invited to the event, glanced at one of the stars, Romano, who sat silent and enthralled, like the others.
“These people weren’t saying a word. You could hear a pin drop. Even Joe Pesci, who was talking all the time, he was quiet and just listening,” Tanoos recalled. “All these stars and golf pros, they were just spellbound.”
By enlisting the support of some of the world’s most recognizable faces, Paulsen and the EIF have raised $262 million for Stand Up To Cancer and its effort to bring breakthrough research to people afflicted by the disease. “What she’s done to further along cancer research is just incredible,” Tanoos said. That quest is the fruit of Paulsen’s promise to her parents that “we won’t stop until we remove cancer from our lives.”
Fittingly, Paulsen’s high school alma mater will present her an honor named for the North Star. She’ll receive the Polaris Award from Terre Haute North Vigo during a 6 p.m. dinner and ceremony Friday at Stables Steakhouse. The Polaris is given annually to distinguished North alums. Paulsen, a 1973 grad, joins Terre Haute federal judge Craig McKee (Class of ’75) and Mayor Duke Bennett (Class of ’78) as the 2014 recipients.
Paulsen left Terre Haute at age 19 after a year as an Indiana State University student, moving to Texas and then California. “I had wanderlust back then,” she recalled. “I think I was enamored with California. It was a stop-gap then. I hadn’t intended to stay, but I fell in love with it, and it feels like home.” She earned a communications degree from UCLA in 1984 and immediately took an entry-level job in development at EIF.
The foundation represents a slice of motion-picture industry history. Hollywood icons Samuel Goldwyn, Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford, Jimmy Stewart and others established the EIF in 1942. Six years after getting her foot in the door with that first EIF job, she became its president. Since then, the foundation has raised more than $800 million for a variety of charitable causes.
Giving and community service were part of Paulsen’s upbringing, with her mom’s participation in library events and her dad’s volunteerism as scoutmaster of a local Boy Scouts troop. “I grew up in a very philanthropic family,” Paulsen said. “It’s kind of in our blood.” Her parents’ guidance “provided me with the moral compass I would need in Hollywood,” she added.
Armed with that footing, Paulsen and the EIF have teamed with a cavalcade of entertainers. Name one and she probably knows that person.
“I haven’t worked with the Rolling Stones,” she said, “but just about everyone else.” Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capeshaw helped the foundation start the Women’s Cancer Research Fund in 2003. The EIF co-founded the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance with news anchor Katie Couric and Lilly Tartikoff, women who lost husbands to cancer. EIF helped actress Charlize Theron create an AIDS clinic for teens in remote South Africa. In 2010, the foundation used its fundraising expertise to steer the “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon, produced by MTV and George Clooney. That two-hour special generated $67 million for earthquake disaster relief.
And then there’s Stand Up To Cancer.
The idea came up during a dinner conversation in 2008 between Paulsen, Couric and then-NBC president Jeff Zucker. “Katie said we should really try to ‘roadblock’ a cancer special” on network TV, Paulsen recalled. A roadblock involves a program broadcast simultaneously on the major networks — CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox.
“Lisa went back to Hollywood and doggedly pursued the idea with the networks and the other women who co-founded Stand Up To Cancer with us,” Couric recalled in an email interview with the Tribune-Star. “She was strategic, persistent and tenacious, albeit in a lovely way.”
The “Stand Up To Cancer” production happened that fall, on Sept. 5, raising more than $100 million from its airing.
Couric, who anchored the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” from 2006 to 2011, saw her husband, Jay Monahan, die of colon cancer in 1998. He was just 42. Her drive to raise research funds and cancer awareness, alongside Paulsen and others, is beyond a passion. “Outside of raising my two daughters, the work Lisa and I and our colleagues have done together in the fight against colon cancer through EIF’s [National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance] and in all cancers through Stand Up are the achievements of which I’m most proud.”
She and Paulsen feel a kinship through personal loss.
“I think there is a particular bond among people who have cared for someone they love deeply, and experienced a sense of powerlessness that ensues when you lose that person to the disease,” Couric explained. “Lisa was already very committed to the fight against cancer, but the close proximity in which she lost both her parents, and the experience of taking care of her mother in particular, only deepened her resolve to galvanize the whole entertainment industry to save lives.”
Couric sees a reflection of Terre Haute in Paulsen. “Lisa grew up in a tight-knit community where people really take care of each other,” Couric said, “and that sense of caring and willingness to do anything for anyone is still at the core of how she interacts with everyone she comes into contact with.”
Today, Paulsen — who has a husband, Ed, and two grown children, Trent and Chelsea — lives a literal stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean along Formosa Beach, south of L.A. “I get the most amazing sunsets,” she said. The mix of diverse opinions, cultures and people fascinate her. And, “it’s almost always sunny,” Paulsen added. She misses the change of seasons, though, and thinks of herself as a Hoosier and a Hautean.
“When I say, ‘I’m going home,’ I really mean Terre Haute,” Paulsen said.
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terre Haute North Vigo High School’s 2014 Polaris Awards dinner is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday in Stables Steakhouse on Poplar Street in Terre Haute. Recipients will be Duke Bennett, Craig McKee and Lisa Paulsen. Alumni interested in attending or sponsoring the event should contact the school at 812-462-4312.
Famous people filled the Riviera Country Club, a scenic golf resort in affluent Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Beyond the Finish Line: As collection heads to museums, memories of Don Lash’s running exploits overflow
ROCKVILLE — Stepping gingerly through a maze of storage boxes filling a back room of his late parents’ Rockville home, Dave Lash reached his dad’s trophy case and pulled one out.
YOUR GREEN VALLEY: Some communities find recycling street sand viable option
Remnants of the harsh winter remain on the sandy sidewalks of Terre Haute. With so much sand left over, is it possible to reuse it for this upcoming winter? It is a question many cities across the United States and Canada have posed.
TRIED ’N’ TRUE: No oven needed for these Peanut Clusters
With it being hot, this is a good way of making cookies without getting the kitchen hot with the oven.
It takes a village: Terre Hautean encounters legends of national pastime yearly in tiny Cooperstown
Diehard baseball fans dream of such chances.
On his annual pilgrimage to Cooperstown, N.Y., Keith Pittman found himself seated at a table along with Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner and Rollie Fingers, as they all listened to a speech by Juan Marichal — each a Hall of Famer. Pittman handled the moment wisely. “You just sit there and be quiet,” he recalled, “and if they are talking baseball, you just listen.”
What will you bring to the table?
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard; recipes, classes, even the Farmers Market, can help you and your family get started
‘Slick’ production: Documentary to show a lesser-seen side of Bobby Leonard, just days before his Hall of Fame induction
In a new documentary, Indiana basketball legend Bobby Leonard serves as the leading man. His hometown of Terre Haute provides much of the supporting cast.
Rock ’n’ Camp: New camp teaches details of forming, running garage band
A handful of friends. Second-hand guitars and amps. A drum kit. A garage. Big dreams.
Those are all the ingredients needed to create a rock band, right?
Helping Hands: Fill your free time this summer by becoming a volunteer
Summer is upon Terre Haute and with the warm weather and open swimming pools comes an exuberant amount of free time for busy children. Outside sports are one way to fill the time and energy, but what else can families do together to benefit their youth and communities? Volunteer.
Rings of Fire: Amateur astronomer, photographer’s hobby has led him across the world in pursuit of total eclipses of the sun
Some people might think amateur astronomers are the kind of people who enjoy star gazing from the safe confines of their homes or perhaps an observatory, but for Clinton-area resident Spencer Young, being an astronomer is a far cry from safe and easy armchair activity.
Clowning around: Performers have been delivering smiles to faces across Wabash Valley for nearly a quarter of a century
“If by chance some day you’re not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I’ve said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled.” — Red Skelton
Timeless Talent: Self-taught artist still creating smiles as 99th birthday approaches
The colorful scenery of Indiana countrysides illuminates every page of John Christopher’s album. It contains dozens of photographs of his paintings and drawings. They’re Christopher’s visions of covered bridges, bird dogs, barns, ducks, deer and creeks — images from his boyhood, etched in his memory.
VIDEO: If These Cars Could Talk: Readers take nostalgic look back at their ‘first loves’
Brilliant sunshine beams down on Danny Weir and his “first love” in that photograph from the summer of ’63.
He’s 18, looking country cool in rolled up sleeves, jeans, loafers and a straw hat with the southern Indiana countryside stretched out in the background. Weir’s companion in the picture gleams, sublime.
Readers reminisce about first cars: ‘I still miss that tank’
Dozens of readers responded to the Tribune-Star’s callout for “Remember Your First Car” stories.
From the Ground Up: Idea takes root as Cayuga family grows a vineyard and winery
Russell McLain poured a sample of sweet red wine, called Splish Splash, into a glass atop a counter inside a cozy tasting room with trophy animals and a widescreen TV perched on its walls.
Rockville native remembers ride through Pacers’ last championship season
The star player greeted the rookie with a bold promise.
It revealed the caliber of the team that surrounded Bill “Fig” Newton, a 22-year-old center, fresh out of Louisiana State University. He found himself in training camp with a virtual all-star squad.
ISU to bring The Color Run to Terre Haute
Indiana State University is planning a colorful kickoff event for the 2014-15 school year.
The university is bringing The Color Run to Terre Haute on Aug. 23. One of the largest event series in the nation, the race douses participants from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer. Billed as the “happiest 5K on the planet,” the event caters to everyone — first-time runners to professional athletes — and has no winners or official times.
‘Sound of Music’ this weekend and next at Maple Avenue UMC
Maple Avenue United Methodist Church’s Summer Theatre will present six performances of “The Sound of Music” beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, July 25.
Brazil Concert Band sets ‘German Musikfest’ concert for July 27
The Brazil Concert Band will present “German Musikfest” at 7 p.m. Sunday at Forest Park in Brazil, rain or shine.
GRAPE SENSE: Find unexpected rewards in the path less traveled
NAPA/SONOMA, Calif. — Repeating the familiar is an easy way to go through life, as is taking the safe road. We all do that but find unexpected rewards when taking the path less traveled.
TRIED ’N’ TRUE: Stuffed ‘mangoes’: A recipe to eat or can
Mrs. Mable Gard from West Union, Ill., put this into the Extension cookbook.
‘On the Banks of the Wabash’ band festival set
Seven bands from Indiana and Kentucky will join the Terre Haute Community Band and special guest Gymnasium Heide-Ost Symphonic Band from Heide, Germany, to present the fourth annual “On the Banks of the Wabash” Community Band Festival on Friday and Saturday. Five bands are making their first appearance at the festival. All concerts are at Fairbanks Park and are free.
Crossroads Rep offers a different show each night
Patrons still have time to see all four shows in this summer’s Crossroads Repertory Theatre season at Indiana State University. During the final two weeks of the season, a different play is presented each evening, with a Sunday matinee.
YOUR GREEN VALLEY: The importance of preserving green space — in and out of the city
Before Sullivan County resident Joan Osburn bought her home in the mid-1970s, the current owner wanted to make sure she and her husband were going to treat the land that came with it with respect. “The first time we came to look at the property, it was kind of funny because she walked our legs off,” Osburn said. The 40-acre property resembles McCormick’s Creek State Park, fit with walking trails, ravines and waterfalls.
CHRIS DAVIES: Don’t have fun exercising? Learn to play
One may wonder why most adults don’t exercise. Many reasons come to mind. Most excuses that I hear translate to laziness and not making time. The real reason I believe, stay with me on this, is we have forgotten how to play.
Country act Parmalee to perform at Hi-99 Summer Bash
The Carolinas lie more than 500 miles from Terre Haute, but a musical slice of that region is coming to town.
Ohio Boulevard home built to promote 1948 movie
It isn’t often that you get to meet a movie star right here in Terre Haute, but on July 20 you’ll have the chance to do just that — almost.
TRIED ‘N’ TRUE: A recipe for oyster lovers
I have been looking through some old recipe books. I was looking at Gene’s mom’s cookbook. It is a Clark County Extension book. It’s fun seeing some of the women who we knew when I was really young.
GRAPE SENSE: Exploring everything a new wine region has to offer
SIENA, ITALY — From the lush green countryside of Oregon’s Willamette Valley to the majesty and golden valleys of Tuscany, a common refrain connects wine lovers. There’s nothing better than good food and good wine.
St. Ben’s plans Community Festival July 11, 12
St. Benedict Church is planning its 17th annual Community Festival for July 11 and 12 at Ninth and Ohio streets. Activities are scheduled from 5 p.m. to midnight both evenings.
YOUR GREEN VALLEY: Microbeads found in personal care products damaging to waters
For the past six years Julie Manson has been working to get plastics and chemicals out of her home. She also tries to cook as many from-scratch meals as possible with local food from the Terre Haute Farmers Market and a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) she participates in. During a visit to the Farmers Market last year, her daughter, Madeleine, told her mother she wanted to be like the vendors she saw there and sell something. Julie then went to work trying to find a niche for the two of them to enjoy together.
- More Features Headlines
- Beyond the Finish Line: As collection heads to museums, memories of Don Lash’s running exploits overflow