Ali Larter, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Kyle Richards and More Come Together in Fight Against the Rare Brain Disease Afflicting a Hollywood Producer's Two Young Daughters
"The story to me was an unthinkable horror for a new mom," Dewan Tatum told PEOPLE of why she wanted to get involved in raising money to find a cure for Batten disease
When producer Gordon Gray and his wife Kristen revealed that both their daughters suffered from Batten, an extremely rare degenerative and fatal brain disorder for which no cure currently exists, Hollywood took to social media to show their support and help raise awareness and funds.
The Grays need to raise between $10 and 12 million to be able to push research forward to find possible treatments and a cure for the disease, which has already onset in their 4-year-old daughter Charlotte, and for which their 2-year-old daughter Gwenyth tested positive.
On Saturday, many of those same celebrities who took social media by storm last week gathered in Los Angeles for the first official fundraiser for the Charlotte and Gwenyth Gray Foundation to Cure Batten Disease.
“The story to me was an unthinkable horror for a new mom,” Jenna Dewan-Tatum told PEOPLE of why she wanted to lend her support. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through as parents. I want to do whatever I could to help, and I know that awareness is a huge part of raising the money that they need.”
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“This is the time where you really feel grateful to be able to have a platform and to help people,” said Kyle Richards. “It would be amazing to intercept, save these children’s lives, and prevent this from happening again.”
Many of the stars that gathered have a personal connection to the Grays and their two young daughters.
“Gordon and Kristen are dear friends,” said Ali Larter, who helped host the Tea for Two event. “They’re extraordinary. They are strong, they are focused, and that’s what I think is the most inspiring – watching them be able to really keep the hope alive and take their efforts to be able to raise more money to cure Batten.”
Sasha Alexander, who has known Kristen since college and was a co-host of the tea, explained the urgency of raising the money now before Charlotte’s symptoms worsen even more.
“Charlotte’s slowing down,” she explained. “She loves to read, and she’s having to look closer for her to read. It’s harder for her to go up the stairs and play as fast as the other kids, so those little things are settling in. To learn about this was beyond devastating and beyond words. I feel that Kristen and Gordon have done the most courageous thing, which is ask for help, and it is all of our privilege to be there for them.”
Co-host Angie Harmon is also close friends with Kristen, and is devastated by what she is having to endure.
“I just admire her so much, and her strength and her courage,” she said. “I can’t imagine watching my own children, [or] a friend’s children, go through it. We’re just praying.”
The Grays hope that by getting the word out and making people aware of Batten disease, they will be able to raise the money needed to save their daughters.
“I will not let my little girl fade away,” said Kristen of her older daughter Charlotte – who is already losing control of her muscles and experiencing seizures – during the event. “We’re going to fight this as hard as we can to preserve her spirit.”