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For kids of all ages

June 15, 2003|Ann Conway | Times Staff Writer

They crawled inside steel cages to become human bowling balls. Donned Velcro suits to slam themselves against a Velcro wall. Stood in line -- then stood some more -- to have their pictures taken with Tim Allen, Dustin Hoffman or Chris Rock. And when it all became too much, they kicked back on cushy beanbag chairs in the shade of an orange grove to hear Tom Hanks and Bonnie Hunt read "Rosie and Roger."

For the 13th year running, the Target: A Time for Heroes carnival drew thousands to media mogul Ken Roberts' 100-plus-acre Mandeville Canyon estate and raised upward of $1 million for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Adults and kids alike participated in the June 8 event, which, besides showcasing celebrities as game booth assistants, featured them as schmoozers, autograph signers and goodwill ambassadors for a favorite Hollywood cause. There was Marlee Matlin helping kids scale a "rock" wall, Bruce Jenner overseeing the Golf Chipping Challenge, Scott Hamilton gently rolling the "bowling balls" down a grassy lane for a strike. "I've been doing this for eight years and wouldn't miss it," said actress Christine Lahti, who helped man the flip-a-rubber-chicken-into-a-bucket booth. "I knew Elizabeth Glaser, and she would be thrilled with this because of the spirit and passion behind it."

Like many of the adults who came with kids in tow, TV producer Norman Lear spent most of his time scanning the crowd for a glimpse of them. Maybe they're watching the Tony Hawk skateboard exhibition. Or perhaps they're checking out the Giant Twister. Are they standing in line for a Pink's hot dog? Could they be posing for a People magazine "cover"? "This event is so great I've lost three children -- twin 8-year-old daughters and a 15-year-old son," Lear said. "They've got to be somewhere."

Wending her way through the bustling crowd, Hunt said she loved coming to the event each year to see "the joy on kids' faces." Not to mention a gaggle of celebrities "connecting for a good cause."

Added Hanks: "This event has become a Hollywood institution. And it says so much about Elizabeth Glaser, who pioneered this cause when it needed pioneering. She would be proud."

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