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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clowning Around - Seriously




Movie stars took back stage at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday night to clowns - but clowns with a serious mission.


The 20 some clowns, Americans and Russians, including doctors and teachers in disguise, were helping raise money for children with cystic fibrosis.


"What we are trying to do is to bring a celebration of life. I don't want to see a child dying, I want to see a child living," Patch Adams, an American in clown's clothing, said


as he played with balloons to entertain children in the restaurant's lobby.


"Those kids have a very boring life and they don't want to be sick. After I visited them the first time, I cried. Everyone cries on the first time." said Marina Shusterman, a children's speech therapist from St. Petersburg.


Since meeting Adams in 1991, she has taken time off of work every year to join a group of people from the United States and Russia who dress up as clowns to entertain children in hospitals.


Shusterman said the Americans who come with Adams are special people.


"They are wonderful people, not some kind of simple-minded Americans," she said.


The clowns were hoping to raise money Wednesday night through an auction, organized by the Voronezh Society of Parents with Children with Cystic Fibrosis, of a giant painting.


The society was helped out by Maria's Children, a charity set up in Moscow by Maria Yeliseyeva to teach art to orphans. Yeliseyeva worked with orphans and children suffering from cystic fibrosis to make the 2-meter-by-3-meter painting.


"I have four children of my own, and it is not difficult for me to help others," said Yeliseyeva, 34, a curly haired woman who brought most of the group's young artists to the evening's charity event.


The painting, featuring a number of colorful houses surrounded by the sun and a rainbow, was a collective work by children from Moscow and Voronezh, 36 of whom are suffering from cystic fibrosis.


Organizers hoped that the painting, which was to be sold late Wednesday, would raise about $1,000. Postcards with pictures of the painting on one side and photographs of children on the other were sold for $1 each.


The cost of medication for a child with cystic fibrosis runs $1,825 a year.


Cystic fibrosis is a lethal genetic disease that used to be known as a children's disease because of the short life expectancy of those who had it. But in recent years, cystic fibrosis sufferers have begun to live beyond the age of 30.


Patch Adams, a tall man with a moustache and a long braid who describes himself as a pacifist and political activist, brings a group of activists to Moscow every year to visit hospitals and orphanages.


Adams says he believes "clown therapy" can be stronger then any drug.


"I have spent 45 years clowning. I have been in many countries and I want to offer [children] the moments to live for," he said.


Anya, 6, a girl from Yeliseyeva's group dressed in a red party dress, was happy to be with the clowns Wednesday night.


"I am running away from one of them, because he always wants to catch me, but John is the one I love, because my mother introduced me to him," Anya said.