The masterminds behind the festival that turns Grand Rapids yellow

Gilda's Club has clubhouses throughout the nation, but Gilda's Club Grand Rapids is one of the busiest -- providing members with meals almost every week night.

Every March, Laughfest turns Grand Rapids yellow, and it's the masterminds at 1806 Bridge Street who make it happen.

Gilda's Club GR and Laughfest president, Wendy Wigger, said people often ask why a nonprofit designed to help cancer patients and their families -- hosts a comedy festival.

Gilda’s Club started Laughfest with hopes of bringing money into the community, helping spread their name, but most importantly, making emotional health a priority.

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The club's namesake, Gilda Radner, said it best: 'cancer makes you part of a club that no one wants to join.'

But here in Grand Rapids, there exists a different kind of club.

“Our members will say the hardest part is walking through our red door," Wigger.

Wigger says deciding to walk through that red door means members are accepting that they are on a painful journey whether it's a cancer diagnosis or grieving a loved one.

But Gilda's Club is a place to call home. Anyone can walk in, whether it's for a cup of coffee or a support group.

The club hosts hundreds of free activities including things like yoga and painting -- there is something for any age.

There are no expectations and no time frames. Wigger says some people come in directly after their diagnosis, while others come years after, as a survivor looking for a way to give back.

Between Lowell and Grand Rapids, the nonprofit serves thousands each year.

Gilda’s Club GR relies on donations and LaughFest in order to continue providing all services for it's members free of charge.

Nearly 15 percent of their revenue comes from the festival. Click here to learn how to volunteer or donate.

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