The Help Group Honors Doug Herzog and Jason & Kathleen Katims at its Annual Teddy Bear Ball

Dec 14, 2010, 06:00 ET from The Help Group

Gala evening in support of The Help Group's efforts on behalf of children with autism and other special needs featured Ziggy Marley, Wendie Malick, Peter Krause, Monica Potter, Joy Bryant, Gary Cole and Louis Price

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif., Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At its 14th Annual Teddy Bear Ball, The Help Group honored Doug Herzog, President of MTV Networks Entertainment Group, in recognition of his far-reaching humanitarian achievements. Under his leadership, Comedy Central launched Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education. Jason Katims, Executive Producer/Head Writer of the TV show Parenthood, and Kathleen Katims, parent advocate, received the Champions for Children Award for their heartfelt commitment to raising the nation's understanding and awareness of autism spectrum disorders.


The Teddy Bear Ball took place on Monday, December 6th, in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Co-chairs of the event were Peter Berg, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Judy McGrath and Ken Solomon. Major sponsors included Viacom-MTV Networks, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Keyes Automotive Group and The Zenith.

Wendie Malick, star of TV Land's Hot in Cleveland, welcomed the more than 600 guests after a captivating holiday medley performed by The Help Group's Children's Choir and Louis Price, former lead singer of the Temptations. Wendie remarked, "It's easy to see why so many of us have joined together to honor Doug, Jason & Kathleen and to support The Help Group. Just seeing the faces of these wonderful kids and hearing them sing inspires the humanitarian spirit in all of us."

Gary H. Carmona, Help Group Chair, and Dr. Barbara Firestone, Help Group President & CEO, expressed their great appreciation to the honorees and to all who helped make the evening such a tremendous success. Dr. Firestone remarked, "It seems so fitting that our Teddy Bear Ball takes place in December each year — with the holiday lights and music and warm sentiments — as they say, that 'most wonderful time of the year'. Because they care, our honorees Doug, Jason and Kathy are amazing change makers for quite literally countless children and their families." Dr. Firestone announced the recent opening of The Help Group's fifth campus, a state-of-the-art autism center, and spoke of the spirit of philanthropy that helped to make this campus a reality. She introduced Steve Davis, President, Hasbro Studios, and thanked Hasbro, Inc. for its generous gift of a Boundless Playground for the new campus and for its sponsorship of The Help Group's Annual Holiday Carnival, which brings joy to more than 800 children in need.

Parenthood's Joy Bryant and actor Gary Cole, Help Group Celebrity Spokesperson/parent advocate, from HBO's Entourage, saluted The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and its President & CEO, Mel Elias, for nine years of supporting The Help Group through its annual "Deck the Walls" holiday in-store giving program, currently in progress through December. The Coffee Bean also participates in The Help Group's autism awareness campaign held in April in recognition of National Autism Awareness Month.  

Following a spirited live auction led by Andrea Fiuczynski, President of Christie's, Dr. Susan Berman, Help Group COO, and Dick Costello, Help Group Circle of Friends Board member, invited the audience to support The Help Group's Dr. Adam Opportunity Fund. This fund provides scholarships and other support for young people in need served by The Help Group. Maurissa, a Help Group graduate, poignantly shared how she had overcome many challenges in her life and is completing her bachelor's degree in psychology with the assistance of this fund.

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Ziggy Marley delighted the crowd with an acoustic version of "Love Is My Religion" and later performed the reggae classic "Three Little Birds" with The Help Group Children's Choir as a special tribute to the honorees. Past Help Humanitarian Award Honorees Margaret Loesch, President & CEO, The Hub television network, a Discovery Communications/Hasbro Inc. joint venture, and Ken Solomon, President of The Tennis Channel and Help Group Circle of Friends Board member, introduced a retrospective of past honorees and welcomed the newest honorees to the group.

Producer, comedian and award-winning writer Robert Smigel introduced Help Humanitarian Award Honoree Doug Herzog. Robert and his wife Michelle's struggles to find educational support for their son, Daniel, who has autism, gave rise to the creation of Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education. Doug has been at the forefront of this major humanitarian effort, which has raised nearly $10 million to date. The Help Group is honored to be among the recipient organizations of this year's event.

In accepting the Help Humanitarian Award, Doug remarked, "With as much as we've learned about autism in the past quarter century, it's still something that's mystifying and misunderstood by people. This is why I see the tremendous value in The Help Group. They take autism and put it in context—the context of how we can address it in so many positive and impactful ways."

Parenthood's Peter Krause and Monica Potter introduced Champions for Children Award honorees Jason and Kathleen Katims. As parents, Jason and Kathleen decided to speak openly and candidly about raising their 14-year old son, who has Asperger's Disorder and attends The Help Group's Village Glen School. Using their personal experiences as a touchstone, Parenthood provides insight into the very real struggles and triumphs of the Braverman family, who are raising Max, a child with Asperger's Disorder.

In his acceptance speech, Jason shared his motivation for including the storyline about Max's Asperger's. "I wrote it because I was both plagued by autism's difficulties and mysteries and inspired by its moments of grace and its many unexpected silver linings. If Parenthood makes a single person feel not alone…if it relieves one person from even one sleepless night then I feel very proud." Kathleen spoke movingly about her family's experience in confronting the challenges of autism. "I want to accept this award on behalf of all the mothers and fathers raising children with special needs. The character of Max Braverman in Parenthood gives me hope that people will see the boy first, with all his beauty, and have more compassion for his challenges."

To cap off the festivities, the honorees, celebrity guests, special friends and children's choir led the audience in an exuberant rendition of "Winter Wonderland" filled with the spirit of this special evening!

Photos available upon request. CONTACT: Sara Cardine, Communications Director, +1-818-779-5327,


Founded in 1975, The Help Group is the largest and most comprehensive nonprofit of its kind in the United States, serving children with a wide range of special needs related to autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, ADHD, mental retardation, abuse and emotional problems. The Help Group's seven specialized day schools offer pre-K through high school programs for more than 1,300 students.  The Help Group's wide range of mental health and therapy services, child abuse and residential programs extends its reach to more than 6,000 children and their families each year. With 800 staff members, The Help Group's state-of-the-art schools and programs are located on four major campuses in the Los Angeles area.

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