Eleanor knew that "Jurassic Park" was a movie for screamers. She'd heard about the take-your-breath-away dinosaur close-ups, the intense moments when the audience felt it might be eaten alive.
"But I'm not going to scream," the 34-year-old said before Tuesday night's benefit showing of the movie at Cinemapolis theater complex in Anaheim Hills. "I'm strong. I'll take it like a woman."
Spoken like an independent woman, thanks to Project Independence--a nonprofit organization that helps developmentally disabled individuals such as Eleanor live on their own. The event made about $7,000 for the Anaheim-based agency, which operates with funds from the California Department of Rehabilitation and the Developmental Disabilities Center in Orange County.
"We have placed 200 of our clients in apartments in Orange County," said Andrea Erickson, PI's executive director.
The agency teaches adults with disabilities ranging from mild retardation to severe physical challenges to cook, clean, manage money and grocery shop.
"We also have an employment program that we use to help them find jobs," said Erickson, who has worked for PI for 16 years.
Before the movie, about 300 guests gathered in the theater to sip punch and nibble on munchies.
Among guests was PI's board president, Scott Harada, a Newport Beach CPA. Harada has volunteered with PI for the past four years. "I love this cause because it helps the less fortunate move forward with their lives," he said.
"The general public needs to understand that these people need to be accepted and integrated into society. Society needs to be open to them--not turn them away because they are different."
For board member John Petersen, the fund-raiser was the realization of a three-year dream. "I've wanted to have a movie benefit for Project Independence because it would be something PI's clients would enjoy," said Petersen, who sported "Jurassic Park"-wear, a khaki ensemble with matching hat. "I am so grateful to (theater manager) Sherry Gartley for her cooperation."
To be assisted by PI, potential clients must first undergo a screening process with the Developmental Disability Center in Santa Ana, Petersen said.
"Then they are interviewed by PI's staff and within months they become clients," he said. "Many of them have roommates. It helps cut costs and provides them with companionship."