The Red Nose Day “fun-raising” special event made its American debut on May 21 on NBC and raised more than $21 million to help children and young adults in poverty.
More than 100 Hollywood stars participated in comedy, video, music and other performances. Stars included Julia Roberts, Will Ferrell, Reese Witherspoon, Jack Black, Jimmy Fallon, Coldplay, Blake Shelton, Gwyneth Paltrow and others.
Featured stories included Jack Black’s visit to Uganda and the effects of disease among the people. Michelle Rodriguez traveled to Peru to see the child labor and lack of education. Blake Shelton was also shown in Los Angeles at a health clinic on wheels that helps children whose families are below the poverty line. All three of these stars urged people in the U.S. to donate in order to help these children all over the world.
Special acts throughout the night encouraged viewers to donate. Some of these included Ed Sheeran singing “The Rainbow Connection” with Kermit the Frog, Coldplay’s 12-minute musical of “Game of Thrones,” Roberts revealing her “real” voice and Paltrow getting stuck halfway down while entering the show in a harness.
Different events occurred throughout the day in New York City in order to raise money. At the NBC Experience store, groups including Broadway casts and others came to perform in order to help raise money. Nick Cannon danced with a group for a continuous 24 hours to draw attention to the event on Time Square. Walgreens and Duane Reade showed support by handing out red noses to anyone who donated.
Walgreens spokesperson Mailee Garcia said 99 percent of the 5 million red noses created for the event were sold. More than $7 million was raised through Walgreens sales of red noses, donations made in stores and specific products where a portion of the sale was donated.
Garcia said Walgreens chose to sponsor Red Nose Day because it coincides with their mission. “It seemed to be a good fit between their organization and ours.”
Jake Slater, a recent BYU graduate, observed the events going on in New York City in support of Red Nose Day. “You could tell it was creating a buzz around Time Square,” Slater said. “It drew a huge crowd of curious people right there with people wondering what was going on — which was great for the cause.”
Slater and colleague Coleman Edwards, another BYU graduate, were stopped as they were walking on the street and were asked if they would like to be on TV. “We walked down the red carpet to the set where Hoda Kotb and Andy Cohen were doing part of the show,” Slater said. Kotb and Cohen were NBC’s hosts of activities held on Time Square.
Red Nose Day is the United Kingdom’s No.1 fundraising event. According to rednoseday.org, Red Nose Day has occurred annually since it began in 1988. It was created by Comic Relief UK, a charity organization that has raised more than $1.5 billion with its main fundraising campaigns — both Red Nose Day and Sports Relief.
Garcia said that in relation to the possibility of another Red Nose Day in the U.S. she couldn’t comment from NBC’s standpoint but that “Walgreens has intentions to continue the relationship.”
Slater believes that with the success of Red Nose Day it may become an annual event in the U.S. as well. “In the future, people will remember this big event with all of the big names — celebrities — and it will be a bigger deal,” Slater said.
Donations can still be made at rednosedayusa.org.