Gilda’s Club – Kansas City


Gilda’s Club is named in honor of comedian Gilda Radner who was best known for her work on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. When describing the experience she had at a Los Angeles cancer support center, Gilda dreamed that such places could be made available for people living with cancer and their friends and families everywhere. Gilda died from ovarian cancer in 1989. Today, her spirit lives on in every Gilda’s Club.

Founded by Joanna Bull, Gilda’s cancer psychotherapist and Gilda’s husband, Gene Wilder, along with Joel Siegel and other friends of Gilda Radner, the first Gilda’s Club opened its signature red door in New York City in 1995. Since that time, 22 additional clubhouses have opened.  Many members attest to the fact that Gilda’s Club has helped change their lives by restoring control and enabling them to plan their own emotional and social support, thus strengthening and enriching the entire family.

Why Gilda’s Club Kansas City?

It’s the goal of the Founding Board of Gilda’s Club Kansas City to create a warm, welcoming place so that the people of the Kansas City area will never have to face cancer alone. The Founding Board believes that the establishment of a Gilda’s Club Kansas City clubhouse that is free of charge is an investment in the quality of life for the region.

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in Missouri, with approximately 30,000 new diagnoses each year.
  • Three out of every four people will be touched by cancer in their lifetime.
  • In 2006 over 9,000 individuals were diagnosed with cancer in the Kansas City metro area. (source: American Cancer Society, Inc. Cancer Facts and Figures 2006)

Gilda’s Club Kansas City fills a gap in the Kansas City cancer community, ensuring that those touched by cancer get free, immediate and ongoing access to emotional and social support.

Gilda’s Club Kansas City is a collaborative organization working side by side with the whole cancer community, not just select organizations or hospitals. It’s time for Kansas City a health care entrepreneur and leader to offer this program that many other communities already offer.

Gilda’s Club Kansas City benefits from its affiliation with well-organized central organization (Gilda’s Club Worldwide) learning best practices from the more than 20 existing clubhouses and 8 provisional clubhouses, including Kansas City are working to open our doors

Today, a number of resources exist in our Kansas City community for people living with cancer. These include hospital and clinic support groups, a variety of patient classes and temporary housing. However, support groups are generally specialized, serving only people living with cancer or specific patient groups, often based on a type of cancer. Classes are sporadic. And few, if any, services address social and emotional needs of people living with cancer on an ongoing basis. Nearly all such classes and support groups leave out key participants in the cancer experience, namely family members and friends. Finally, few programs are offered on a consistent and ongoing basis for teens and children.

What Makes Gilda’s Club Unique?

  • Gilda’s Club gives people a place to learn how to live with cancer. More than just offering support groups, Gilda’s Club is a place to connect, learn and socialize.
  • Gilda’s Club offers a home-like environment, free from any formal medical affiliation. Rather than attend support groups in medical facilities, club members and family members find support in a warm and welcoming clubhouse.
  • Gilda’s Club is easy to join. Anyone living with cancer or any family member or friend can attend a New Member Meeting and complete a CMP (customized membership plan), to explore how Gilda’s Club provides support. Facilitated by Gilda’s Club staff and volunteers, the New Member Meeting includes an introduction to the club and program.
  • Gilda’s Club is a place for the entire community. A collaborative effort across the Kansas City medical community, Gilda’s Club strives to work with community organizations and leverage resources.
  • Gilda’s Club is designed for the whole family, not just for the person living with cancer. Gilda’s Club offers something for everyone.
  • Gilda’s Club is for men affected by cancer, offering a wide variety of activities geared just for men – rare in Kansas City.
  • Gilda’s Club is for teens and children affected by cancer, offering numerous teen and child-focused activities – rare in Kansas City.
  • Gilda’s Club is for women affected by cancer too, offering a wide variety of activities. In fact, Gilda’s Club is named for Gilda Radner, celebrated comedian who had ovarian cancer.
  • Gilda’s Club provides a welcoming social component – just come and be who you are.
  • Gilda’s Club is a global brand, providing a proven and successful program structure throughout North America.
  • Gilda’s Club is open and available six days a week, all year long, for members who need     something readily available

The Program

Like all Gilda’s Clubs, the Gilda’s Club Kansas City program will include the following components:

  • Support and Networking Groups
  • Lectures and Workshops
  • Social Activities
  • Team Convene
  • Family Focus
  • Noogieland (designated for children and their families)
  • ph&d for Cancer Survivors

How it is done at Gilda’s Club: Professional Staff + Volunteers + Passion + Worldwide Support

The organization that manages the Gilda’s Club brand and the development of all Gilda’s Clubs is called Gilda’s Club Worldwide. Each local clubhouse is called an affiliate. It’s a tremendous business model where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, in that each affiliate benefits from the working knowledge of the clubhouses opened before them. Gilda’s Club Worldwide works very hard to ensure that all clubhouses benefit from best practices, and that resources and information are shared constantly. The relationship between Gilda’s Club Worldwide and its affiliates is close but flexible. Gilda’s Club Worldwide is dedicated to maintaining the standards that scrupulously reflect the philosophy and program fundamentals and vigorously supports these standards. Worldwide believes the Gilda’s Club movement is enlivened by input from the personal and collective wisdom of its affiliates.

It should be noted that any money raised locally, stays locally.  Also, every Gilda’s Club employs top-notch professional and support staff for key positions. In addition to these staff, Gilda’s Club relies on our care of volunteers to deliver many parts of the program. Gilda’s Clubs volunteer positions include (but not limited to):

  • help with clerical tasks such as mailings, phone calls and general administrative tasks
  • conduct workshops or give lectures in their fields of specialty, such as meditation, tai chi,
  • cooking donate their time during social events by providing comedy, music and dance
  • coordinate and lead activities for the Noogieland children’s program
  • assist with grant writing, development and special events

For more information, visit or email

Information for this article taken from Gilda’s Club Kansas City’s website.


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