GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The 11th annual LaughFest wrapped up Sunday night after four full days of comedy and fun, done safely and for the most part, remotely. The annual event is meant as a fundraiser and to bring awareness to Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids which offers free emotional support for anyone on a cancer journey or grieving the loss of a loved one.
FOX 17 spoke with Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids president Wendy Wigger Sunday about this year’s abbreviated festival and, fittingly, she was all smiles. “We couldn’t be more happy with the engagement of the community and the involvement of everybody. It has been an incredible festival, we’ve been saying here, four days have just flown by way too fast.”
Wigger said she anticipates that both Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and LaughFest may keep some of their hybrid programs in place going forward, well after the pandemic has passed. “We’ve had people who’ve been able to participate in support groups while getting their chemo, or from a hospital bed or from home, and even out of state, so it has allowed us to stay connected even though we’ve been physically distant,” she explained about the support that Gilda’s continues to provide.
As for LaughFest, Wigger added, “A great example this year was the Seriously Funny Adventure challenge. It was something that ran itself for the most part, we had a great app that folks were using and pictures they were taking, and you can tell from the photos that were shared, what an awesome time they’ve had in their own little socially distanced teams. So that’s something that I can imagine that would still allow us to have people engaged all around downtown Grand Rapids in a way that is even easier on the team here in terms of delivery, but it doesn’t reduce any of the fun or the overall excitement of LaughFest, so there are some things that we’ve learned.”
While the event ended Sunday night, all of the free events will remain on their website for the time being so everyone is able to watch the ones they may have missed. Gilda’s set a goal of reaching 10,000 “High Five” donations. To help support their program and watch the free events, go to laughfestgr.org.