Opening their hearts to children

Jane Seymour and James Keach, along with celebrity friends, celebrate their foundation that provides arts, education, sports and more to children. Jesse Billauer of Life Rolls On is one of the honorees.

By Kim Devore / The Malibu Times

It was a starry evening Saturday at the Malibu home of Jane Seymour and James Keach as the high profile pair celebrated the inauguration of their Open Hearts Foundation. The new organization aims to enrich the lives of children through the arts, sports, health and education.

“Living with an open heart allows you to overcome adversity and create something positive in your life. This philosophy, which reflected my mother’s advice, has inspired me to live my life with an open heart,” Seymour, who is a founding board member of the Open Hearts Foundation, said. “I’m truly humbled that so many people have found comfort and inspiration in my Open Heart symbol and philosophy.”

The Open Heart symbol is inspired by Seymour’s paintings. It reflects her mother’s advice that love should have no boundaries and should flow unconditionally.

“Life is full of challenges, but when your heart is open it can never stay broken and love will always find its way in,” Seymour said. “This powerful philosophy has moved people to recognize [it] as a universal symbol of giving and receiving love.”

Other notable Malibuites attended the inauguration, including Pepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton and Jim Palmer of Malibu Vineyards, who also serve on the new foundation’s board.

After cocktails at sunset, the guests took their seats for a gourmet dinner and a special awards presentation program. It honored four individuals for their remarkable community service.

“Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts received this year’s health award. Roberts led a very public battle with breast cancer after being diagnosed in June 2007. Her positive outlook served as an inspiration for others.

Jesse Billauer was selected to be the sports honoree. The famed California surfer experienced a tragic surfing accident that left him paralyzed as a teenager. Billauer founded Life Rolls On, which is now a subsidiary of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injuries.

Susan Rizzo Vincent was selected as this year’s arts honoree. She established the Andrea Rizzo Foundation in memory of her daughter, who was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 24 after having survived childhood cancer. Andrea’s wish was to become a dance therapist and give children with cancer the gift of dance. Her Drea’s Dream organization provides dance therapy to children with cancer and special education needs.

Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith, along with his wife Pat, was named as the education awardees. The pair established Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities to help provide resources to underserved youth and encourage the importance of education.

The evening wrapped up on a high note with a special musical performance by American Idol star Katharine McPhee who took the stage along with William Joseph and Jakob Dylan.

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