Gene Wilder died yesterday. When I saw his name trending on Twitter, I cringed as clicked on it, hoping that wasn’t the news.
Of course, he was the original (and best) Willy Wonka, but one thing many may not remember or know is that he was once married to the effervescent Gilda Radner. Gilda was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, well-known for her characters ‘Rosanne Rosannadanna’ and ‘Emily Litella’ among others. She won an Emmy award for her work on SNL, and to this day, remains one of the most beloved cast members of all-time.
Gilda was diagnosed in 1986 with ovarian cancer. She once said that cancer gave her “membership to an elite club I’d rather not belong to”. She died in 1989 at the age of 42, with Gene by her side.
In her honor, Gene co-founded the nonprofit “Gilda’s Club” in 1991, which provides free support for those affected by cancer– both those with cancer, and those that love and care for someone with cancer. Support groups, counseling, education and a sense of community are provided, “so that no one has to face cancer alone”.
When a new employee starts at StratEx, I create a quick introduction of them and email it out company-wide. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job. To tease out the details for the intro, I ask them some questions and reference their resume. One thing that is present on nearly every resume I receive: volunteer work. Almost every single StratExian has a heart for volunteering.
We knew this was an area where our company should follow the lead of our employees. We are proud to announce our new initiative: StratEx Serves.
Gilda’s Club of Chicago was an easy choice for the focus of our first StratEx Serves event.
This nonprofit is especially important to two StratExians, so they knew that one service that Gilda’s Club offers is art therapy. For two weeks in July and August, we held a drive for arts and crafts supplies to be donated directly to Gilda’s Club of Chicago. We didn’t know what to expect, so we set an initial goal of 50 items.
Happy to report: Goal exceeded!
We estimate we gathered more than 175 arts and crafts items. These were dropped of at Gilda’s Club of Chicago by Madeline McDonnell, one of our HR Account Managers and Gretchen Van Vlymen, our VP of Account Management.
We look forward to following the lead of our fellow StratExians again and again to serve our community through StratEx Serves.
Rest in peace, Mr. Wilder, and thank you for your work.