The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund hosted its first Awards Gala on Tuesday evening (November 1) at the famed Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles to raise funds for its commitment to cancer prevention, research and education. Founded in memory of Ronnie James Dio, the world-renowned voice of DIO, RAINBOW, BLACK SABBATH and HEAVEN HELL who died of gastric cancer last year, the Dio Cancer Fundhas already raised more than $500,000 in its short history.
Wendy Dio, widow of the late singer and Fund Founder/President, and Gloria Butler, Chairman of the Board of the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, will present the Dio Cancer Fund‘s latest pledge to the T.J. Martell Foundation for Cancer, AIDS and Leukemia Research at their annual dinner in New York this week. Additionally, the Fund has committed monies to the gastric cancer research unit of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where Ronnie was treated during the last six months of his life.
Awards named after songs written by Ronnie James Dio were presented to honorees in recognition of their support of the Fund‘s important work. Eddie Trunk, host of VH1 Classic‘s “That Metal Show”, served as special guest emcee and, after introducing each honoree, was surprised by Wendy Dio with the final award of the evening, the Long Live Rock ‘N Roll Award.
The Killing the Dragon Award went to Danny Zelisko, a cancer survivor and President of Phoenix-based Danny Zelisko Presents concert promotions, who remarked that “not a day goes by that I don’t miss Ronnie.” The King of Rock ‘n Roll Award went to Ronnie James Dio‘s longtime bandmate and friend Terry “Geezer” Butler, bassist for BLACK SABBATH and HEAVEN HELL. Mike Carden, a cancer survivor and President, North America, Eagle Rock Entertainment, a leading independent record label which has released several Dio recordings, accepted the Rainbow in the Dark Award, calling Wendy Dio “the hero of this evening.”
In accepting the Sacred Heart Award, television medical expert Sandeep “Sandy” Kapoor, M.D., Medical Director/Co-Founder of the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, spoke poignantly about the need for better ways to screen for cancers and the public’s need to demand better access to health care and treatment. “We have to help each other,” he said, “‘stand up and shout’ to stopping cancer before it starts.”
Rita Haney, a tireless fund-raiser, Founder of Dimebash in memory of her late boyfriend “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott of the band PANTERA, accepted the Stand Up and Shout Award for her continuous contributions to the Dio Cancer Fund. Tony Martell, founder of the T.J. Martell Foundation, which has funded innovative medical research to find cures and treatments for leukemia, cancer and AIDS for nearly 40 years, spoke via videotape from New York. His Man on the Silver Mountain Award was accepted on his behalf by T.J. Martell Foundation CEO Laura Heatherly.
Among the guests in attendance were “L.A. Ink”‘s Kat von D and rockers Slash, Glenn Hughes, Frankie Banali, Keith Emerson, Alex Kane, Marc Ferrari and members of the DIO band Rudy Sarzo, Craig Goldy, Scott Warren and Simon Wright as well as record producers Roy Thomas Baker and Mike Fraser and various other celebrities who popped in to show their support.
Event sponsors and guests were treated to cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and various gourmet food stations created by renowned chef William S. Bloxsom-Carter and a performance by the rock band ASIA featuring John Payne in addition to escorted tours of the Mansion grounds and world-famous grotto and commemorative photos, some with Playboy Bunnies. Silent and live auctions, with items such as guitars signed by THE ROLLING STONES and U2, among others, and one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia including Mohammed Ali‘s signed robe and boxing gloves, proved to be an exciting addition to the evening’s festivities.
Photo credit: Gene Kirkland
From left to right: Sandeep Kapoor, M.D.; Mike Carden, Danny Zelisko, Gloria Butler, Wendy Dio, Eddie Trunk, Terry “Geezer” Butler and Rita Haney