Celebrate the New Year with Laughter

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Local Comedians Join Hands to Raise Funds to Benefit Familia Unida Living With Multiple Sclerosis, Jan. 26 "Comedy Fiesta" to also Raise Awareness of People Living with Disabilities

While the comedy show promises to make us laugh, the larger event allows us to draw attention to the challenges that people with disabilities face everyday

Using laughter to help create hope and healing for individuals with disabilities, comedian Shayla Rivera, the "Puerto Rican Rocket Scientist," and other top Latino comedians, will host "Comedy Fiesta," a fundraising comedy show to benefit Familia Unida Living With Multiple Sclerosis (FULWMS), Friday, Jan. 26, 2007, at 6 p.m. at Steven's Steak House, 5332 E. Stevens Place, in Commerce.

"We're absolutely thrilled to have an all-star lineup of Latino comedians," said Irma Resendez, FULWMS founder and president, who was stricken with MS at the age of 28 and, since then, has dedicated her life to addressing the needs of people with disabilities.

"The price of admission also includes some free medical treatment," Resendez joked. "My research tells me laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and boosts immune function by producing disease-fighting antibodies. Personally, I have also found that laughter is healing to the heart and soul."

Rivera, who will serves as mistress of ceremony for the comedy show, hosts the Lifetime Television show, "You're Not the Man I Married." Born in Puerto Rico, Rivera studied aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University and later worked on the Space Shuttle at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. She starred in the one-woman stage play, "Rocket Science and Salsa: The Shayla Rivera Story."

Rivera enlisted the support of the other comedians, who've agreed to donate their time for the charity. The talent lineup includes East L.A.'s Rudy Moreno (Showtime's "Latino Laugh Festival"), Gene Pompa (NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien) and Luke Torres, who's opened for Jerry Seinfeld and Dennis Miller.

"While the comedy show promises to make us laugh, the larger event allows us to draw attention to the challenges that people with disabilities face everyday," Resendez said. "Individuals with MS and other illnesses are real people, like you and I, with hopes, fears and aspirations. As a community, we must demonstrate to these individuals that they're not alone."    

In addition to the comedy show, the program will provide live music featuring La Cruda Realidad and a delicious dinner. Proceeds from the fundraising show will benefit FULWMS programs.

For more information about the "Comedy Fiesta," call Steven's Steak House at (323) 723-9856, FULWMS toll free at (877) 298-3267 or visit http://www.msfamiliaunida.org.

About Familia Unida

Founded in 1998 by Irma Resendez (after her own diagnosis of MS which left her paralyzed for almost a year), Familia Unida Living with Multiple Sclerosis is the first bilingual English-Spanish multiple sclerosis non-profit organization in the United States serving thousand of individuals and families affected by multiple sclerosis and other debilitating diseases in the greater Los Angeles area. There are over 500,000 people living with multiple sclerosis in the United States and over 200 individuals newly diagnosed every week. This census does not include the many that are misdiagnosed or not counted due to language and cultural barriers. Today, there is no cure.

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Alfredo Padilla

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