UPDATE: Gilda's Club Madison will keep its namesake - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Gilda's Club Madison will keep its namesake

Photo: NBCU photo bank Photo: NBCU photo bank

MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- The people have spoken and Gilda's Club Madison will not be changing its name.

In November, the Madison affiliate located in Middleton said they'd change their name-- partly because they were worried young people don't know its namesake: Gilda Radner. The new name would change to Cancer Support Community, to help people better recognize and understand the services the club offers.

Since then, members and supporters made it known they need Gilda to keep the club's spirit alive.

"The feedback was overwhelmingly passionate. People love the humor she brings and as an organization that deals with cancer there's not a lot of humor that goes into it," says Lannia Stenz, executive director of Gilda's Club Madison. "It was never our intention to kick Gilda out."

CEO of the founding chapter in New York City, Lily Safani, says her office got a number of calls from concerned supporters, worried it was a national trend. Safani said they had no intention of ever changing their name, and was thrilled to hear the Madison chapter realized the value in the Gilda brand.

The Madison affilIate was the third to announce a name change, following Milwaukee and Dallas. Stenz says Milwaukee has since signed on with a new affiliate, and is no longer associated with Gilda's Club at all.

Safani says after the response in Madison, it's not likely another affiliate would try to change its name.

"I certainly think it is enough proof to know that if they did decide to change their name, they would have a reaction similar to the Madison clubhouse," says Safani.

The change was intended to give the public a better idea of what the club has to offer: emotional support for people of all ages, living with cancer. That's something Stenz says will never change.

"Moving forward, we're going to have to speak louder and make sure people know that we're here and make sure that families touched by cancer come in through our doors," says Stenz.

Gilda's Club Madison is the only Gilda's Club affiliate in Wisconsin. Milwaukee has changed affiliates. The Madison organization is expanding support groups to 14 new counties in southern Wisconsin. The clubhouse has 22-hundred members, adding more every year.


MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- Gilda's Club of Madison will keep its namesake, despite a November announcement that it would soon change.

The organization posted a news release on their website Wednesday morning indicating Gilda Radner's name would not be removed from the group's title. In November, Gilda's Club's executive director Lannia Stenz said the name would change to Cancer Support Community, to help people better recognize and understand the services the club offers.

In a statement Wednesday Stenz says, "Over the past few weeks we've heard from so many passionate voices about how important Gilda Radner's legacy is to our members affected by cancer. While we were never going to remove Gilda's likeness from our walls nor her spirit from our mission, it became clear that however well intentioned, the decision to change the name of our club was not the right decision for our community."

Gilda's Club was founded in 1995 in New York by Gilda Radner's friends and family after her 1989 death from ovarian cancer.

The Madison area club would have been the third Gilda's Club chapter to change its name, following the lead of clubs in Dallas and Milwaukee.

Stenz says Gilda's Club Madison will remain an affiliate of the Cancer Support Community, which merged with The Wellness Community in 2009 to help people with cancer connect with others.

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