California Dreaming to Conquer Cancer

The "California Dreaming to Conquer Cancer" block party hosted by Concern at the Paramount Studios backlot. Photo by Ariel Johns.

By Ariel Johns

We all know someone who has been impacted by it – no matter their race, age, sex or income bracket. It’s a topic that no one wants to discuss. It tests families and destroys relationships. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world, but there is hope. With early detection, treatments can begin and lives can be saved. This is the mission behind Concern Foundation – conquer cancer by providing essential funds to support the early yet critical stages of discovery.

Concern (CONquer canCER Now) has been fighting cancer since 1968. The foundation has raised over $68 million in salary support to cancer scientists studying the disease. Their main focus is on genetics, cell biology, immunotherapy and immunology – the study of the relationship between the immune system and cancer. Capitalizing on its Los Angeles roots, Concern has found a way to successfully bridge the gap between cancer research and Hollywood. Many of their annual fundraisers feature a range of celebrity chefs and talent. Their most anticipated event is the annual Block Party.

On July 13, the backlot of Paramount Pictures Studios was the location for the block party. The prestigious studio backlot was transformed into a lively bazaar with delicious food and entertainment. Over 4,000 guests flooded the streets to celebrate this year’s theme: California Dreaming to Conquer Cancer.

More than 70 food and beverage vendors catered the carnival offering guests dishes from such notable restaurants as Fogo de Chao, STK Los Angeles, La Boheme, Dulan’s on Crenshaw Soul Food, Pink’s Famous Hot Dogs, Buzz Bar, DeLuscious Cookie & Milk, Bar Hayma El Floridita and Weaver’s Coffee & Tea. Libations were provided by the Garagiste Festival Micro Winery Tastings Area, Nuda Tequila, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Asahi Beer, Humboldt Distillery, Bulletproof, Buzz Box, and Dulce Vida Tequila.

No block party is complete without entertainment. Guests were serenaded with live music from the house band, while a DJ played the latest hits on the other side of the lot. Poker, blackjack and craps were among the numerous casino-style games for party-goers who wanted to try their hand at gambling. The Block Party also featured photo booths, live and silent auctions, a beauty bar and a Ferris wheel. Media partner Los Angeles Magazine offered patrons a relaxation lounge filled with plush couches and fresh popcorn from the Arclight movies.

As party-goers ate, danced and immersed themselves in activities, Concern’s President Derek Alpert thanked the sponsors and countless volunteers for helping make the event a success. Alpert extended a special thank you to the Carroll family for their 44 years of volunteering. The audience rose and clapped in honor of the Carrolls as they were presented with the Lifetime of Giving Award.

As the evening came to a close, $1.8 million was raised for cancer research. To continue the fight  and help them CONquer canCER Now, donations can be made on their website or by texting Concern19 to “52182.”

Food, fun and travel are three things that Ariel Johns is highly passionate about. She is an actress/talk show host who is always on the move,discovering all the hidden gems that our world  has to offer. This self-proclaimed nerd is a lover of horror/sci-fi/action movies, and the Philadelphia Eagles. You can usually find her on a roller coaster taking full advantage of her Six Flags Season Pass. Find her on Twitter (arielsfriend), Instagram (Arielsfriends) and at

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