By: Christina Parisi
Photos: Kathy Hutchins
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 12/16/2021 – After taking a year off due to Covid, the 11th Annual Experience, Strength, and Hope Awards returned last night with a scaled-down dinner and awards. The event was held at the Skirball Cultural Center on Wednesday, December 15, where guests came together to have a sober celebration.
The night kicked off with a red carpet arrival followed by dinner and awards. Shadoe Stevens hosted the evening, honoring Leigh Steinberg, author of The Agent and the inspiration behind the character of Jerry Maguire in Cameron Crowe’s acclaimed film Jerry Maguire, and Courtney Friel, KTLA News Anchor and author of Tonight at 10: Kicking Booze and Breaking News.
Those in attendance were treated to performances by comedians Alonzo Bodden and Stevie Mack, Tony Dennison, and eight-time Grammy Award winner Philip Lawrence.
The awards dinner was presented by Writers in Treatment, an organization “dedicated to reducing the stigma of substance abuse and mental illness by showcasing the talents and contributions of and artists.” Founded by Leonard Buschel, the organization helps individuals to get clean and stay sober so they can lead fulfilling lives. When asked how the honorees became involved with the night’s events, Friel attributed it to Leonard. And Steinberg explained he was happy to be a part of “anything to spread the concept of resilience and hope.”
While everyone’s sober journey is personal and unique, the overall theme from the event was one of understanding, acceptance, and resilience. In an attempt to reduce the stigma of substance abuse, the Experience, Strength, and Hope Awards celebrates sobriety. Friel explains, “For me, I have always been very open and I am not ashamed. It’s the most cherished thing in my life and if I have the ability to help people, I want to be open about it.” From his own experience, Steinberg offered, “if someone is struggling with addiction, there is help out there and they can have a second chance with resilience and a sense of optimism.” Friel also explains another angle she likes to show: “you can still have a lot of fun sober. Your definition of fun may change but it’s so much more real and memorable.”
And this event offered and delivered exactly that.