Whether they were cancer patients or marathon runners, the crowd of 2,000 attending Saturday's Planet Hollywood Star Struck 5K were there to pursue good health.
The race and post-race food fair were held outside the soon-to-be-completed Planet Hollywood restaurant at South Coast Plaza Village in Santa Ana. The $17-per-person event netted $25,000 for the Wellness Community, a free program that helps adults fighting cancer.
The Wellness Community provides social and psychological support for cancer patients and their families. "When they walk through our door, they become victors instead of victims," said Carol Blanchard, executive director of the local Wellness Community.
Harold Benjamin, a Beverly Hills lawyer, started the original Wellness Community in Santa Monica 10 years ago after his wife developed breast cancer. "It was obvious that being with other cancer patients would help," said Benjamin, who retired from a law practice to devote his time and resources to the group.
Orange County Supervisor Harriett Wieder founded the Santa Ana Wellness Community in memory of her sister, who died of cancer seven years ago.
"She participated in the Wellness Community in Santa Monica," Wieder said. "For six months, it helped her have a higher quality of life. When cancer patients are first diagnosed, they feel they've lost control. This group helps them regain control."
After the early morning race, the guests--many clad in clingy running outfits to show off their hard bodies--wandered around the parking lot visiting booths from local businesses, restaurants and health-related organizations.
At one table they lined up to meet visiting celebrities, including tennis player Nils Van Patten, former Angels pitcher Clyde Wright and Olympics gymnast Kathy Johnson, who started the race. Actor Bryan Patrick Clarke, who has appeared on "General Hospital," also greeted guests.
Food booths offered up a wide variety of specialties, including Texas chili, Indian food and Italian pastas. Antonello Ristorante prepared a health- conscious bow-tie pasta with tuna and herbs.
Planet Hollywood, which is scheduled to open Oct. 24, will be the site of other charity events, said Frank DiBella, restaurant president. In the works for the grand opening are plans for six helicopters to land nearby with celebrities on board.
Others attending the race were Diane Fullerton, event chairwoman; Cyndi Brandefine, event co-chairwoman; Terry Antonelli, Michael Azeka and Deb Denne, Antonio Cagnolo, Bill Fawcett, Michael Gertner and Victoria Avey, Barbara McKone, Pam Morris, Gordon Marhoeser, Judi Ouellette, Eileen Phillips, Lori Reid, Hugh and Anne Saddington, Tom Walley and Beth Winkler.