The 8th Annual Ed Asner & Friends Celebrity Poker Night was a night of stars and virtual cards and a huge success raising in excess of $150,000 in much needed funds for The Ed Asner Family Center (TEAFC) dedicated to working with exceptional individuals with autism, developmental delays and other special needs and their families.
Emmy award winning actor, activist and autism advocate Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Lou Grant Show, UP) hosted the star-studded extravaganza which took place on Saturday, August 29, 2020. This year’s event, produced by Dwight Kennedy Productions, was virtual in a unique creative blend in an online collaboration with Faded Spade due to the ongoing COVID -19 pandemic.
Asner, who has a son and grandsons on the autism spectrum, was joined in poker and fun with over 50 celebrities supporting the cause including Jack Black, Rosie O'Donnell, Don Cheadle, Jamie Lee Curtis, Richard Schiff, Nick Offerman, Anna Paquin, Jason Alexander, Michael Chiklis, Dylan McDermott, Brad Garrett, Lou Diamond Phillips, Maureen McCormick, Tom Arnold, Holly Robinson-Peete, Rodney Peete, Thomas Gibson, B.D. Wong, Clancy Brown, Nicholas Gonzalez, poker legend Phil Hellmuth, Richard Kind, Daryl Hannah, Stephen Moyer, Steven Weber, Greg Grunberg, Josh Malina, Dave Foley, Randy Rainbow, Danny Bonaduce, Michael Ian Black, Willie Garson, Adam Goldberg, Diedrich Bader, Tony Denison, Greg Proops, Tom Petersson, Frances Fisher and Brent Spiner, among many others.
Lyle Lovett, Grammy Award-winning singer, composer and actor, headlined the musical entertainment. Poker commentator Nick Geber, radio and television personality on Sirius Satellite Radio, was joined by co-host Maria Ho, ranked one of the top female poker players in the world. Hosting the celebrity virtual green room was entertainment reporter BJ Korros of The Hollywood Moment and TheBJKTODAY on YouTube, @talkblogguy, @shoutout4a cause.
Other friends jumping in to benefit the center were Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Peter Frampton, Howie Mandel, Weird Al Yankovic, William Zabka, William Shatner and Will Clark, who signed Ed’s one-of-a-kind collectible poker jersey for sale. The online store will remain open until September 10, 2020 and all proceeds benefit The Ed Asner Family Center. The Silent Auction, including trips, guitars, signed celebrity shirts, wine tasting packages and much more, is open until September 12, 2020 here.
Top winner and last man standing was actor Clancy Brown (Thor: Ragnarok, The Shawshank Redemption), who received a championship trophy. Upon winning, Brown exclaimed, “Honestly man, I don’t play poker. I don’t know what I was doing. I was just experimenting around and having some fun.” Second place winner was Susan Hacopian and taking third place was Sean Kirk, both also receiving trophies.
In the United States, a total of 12.8 percent of children under age 18, or about 9.4 million children, are estimated to have special health care needs. The Ed Asner Family Center is a nonprofit co-founded by Navah and Matt Asner, whose mission is to help those with special needs and their families seeking wholeness in all facets of life. Ed Asner personally understands the challenges that special needs families face and the healing power of a creative, loving environment. He’s a longtime advocate for exceptional individuals on the autism spectrum, developmental delays and other special needs. In the past, the Ed Asner Poker Fundraiser has raised much-needed funds for charitable organizations such as Autism Speaks and The Autism Society of America.
The Ed Asner & Friends Poker Celebrity Night is proudly sponsored by Four of a Kind Sponsor: Alex & Jean Trebek; Full House Sponsors: Abigail Disney, Ireland Family Foundation, Plush Beds, The Robert & Renee Kelly Foundation; Two Pair Sponsor: Sony Pictures Television; Dealer Sponsors: Mata Construction, Netflix, Newmark Knight Frank; Card Shark Sponsors: ABC, Boyd Gaming Corp., Dolby, Doreen Granpeesheh Family Foundation, Newman Aaronson & Vanaman Attorneys at Law, The TR Family Trust (Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson), Turbo Wholesale Tires Inc.; Inkind Sponsors: Amber Ayers, Andrew Bernstein, Audrey Darin, Award Winners, Bob Demarco, Dana Austin, E.N.V., Estee Lauder, Evans Hotels, Gary Bilodeau, JP Pereat, Los Angeles Dodgers, Mitzva Wellness, Pathwater, Plush Beds, Renee Frigo, Roger Replogle, Roland, Stone and Grove, Susan Tenney and Guess, T-Bone, Tommy at Picture Perfect, Tracy Ross, Von Tux Mantra Jewels, Wellgrove, Zeno Functional Foods for SoBars.