Stars come out in SF for Painted Turtle campers 

click to enlarge Page Adler
  • courtesy photo
  • Page Adler, co-founder of The Painted Turtle, a camp for chronically ill children, and Paul Newman attend the camp’s groundbreaking in Lake Hughes.
“Awesome” is how Page Adler describes the 10th anniversary of The Painted Turtle, a California camp for chronically ill children she co-founded.

The year-round camp — which offers kids ages 7 to 16 with severe and unusual conditions the opportunity to simply play, have a good time and do normal fun activities — has some high-profile friends.

On Monday, A-listers including Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Josh Groban, Randy Newman, Jack Nicholson, Bonnie Raitt and Renée Zellweger appear in a benefit variety show for the camp at Davies Symphony Hall in The City.

It’s not the first time the luminaries have supported the camp, whose $4.5 million annual budget comes solely from donations and grants; campers attend for free. (This year, the need is even greater, says Adler, due to repairs needed from damages caused by the Powerhouse Fire.)

The person behind the show is Page’s husband, Hollywood producer Lou Adler, who says, “It’s an easy call to make,” regarding asking the stars — close friends who have been involved from the beginning — to participate.

“They’ve seen the camp, they share the passion. They’re there as long as they don’t have a conflict,” he says.

Page Adler got the idea to establish a camp on the West Coast after volunteering at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn., in 1989.

“I naively thought it would take three months and a couple of million dollars,” she says. It wasn’t until seven years later that the doors opened on the $30 million facility in Lake Hughes, which is located about 60 miles from Los Angeles.

While some campers may be on dialysis or in wheelchairs, Adler says, “There is nothing that a child can’t do at The Painted Turtle.”

She notes a positive ripple effect not just on the campers — who enjoy seeing their doctors in Hawaiian shirts — but on medical staffers, who get to see patients outside of the hospital in a comfortable, joyful mode.

Campers at The Painted Turtle are children being treated at 17 top children’s hospitals in California, including UC San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital, which is co-presenting Monday’s performance.

One difference between this year’s program and past shows is that the kids from The Painted Turtle and Benioff Children’s Hospital, who will act and sing, are involved “more than ever before,” says Lou Adler. He adds, “They’re survivors and they’re strong. Getting up and performing is great for them.”

IF YOU GO

Starry Evening of Music, Comedy and Surprises with Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Josh Groban, Randy Newman, Jack Nicholson, Bonnie Raitt, Renée Zellweger

Presented by The Painted Turtle, UCSF Medical Center

Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $150 and higher

Contact: (415) 476-6400, special-events@ucsfmedctr.org

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Leslie Katz

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