A famed comedian and actor won $250,000 for local charity Alice’s Kids by playing “Celebrity Jeopardy.”
At the finale of the annual “Celebrity Jeopardy” tournament that aired Sunday (Feb. 7), Patton Oswalt finished in second place and was awarded a quarter of a million dollars to donate to a charity of his choice.
As first reported by On the MoVe, the stand-up comedian/actor perhaps most known for voicing Remy in the Pixar movie “Ratatouille” chose Alice’s Kids, a Mount Vernon-based nonprofit that provides money to disadvantaged kids for small items like soccer cleats, school trips, and birthday parties.
Our friend and smart guy, @pattonoswalt, just won $250,000!!! He fell ONE DOLLAR short of winning the whole thing! I just spoke to him and he said he was thrilled to get us this money and ordered me to spend it on as many kids as possible. We will, Patton!!!
— Alice's Kids (@alicewillhelp) February 3, 2023
“It’s a huge boost to our budget,” co-founder Ron Fitzsimmons told FFXnow. “This is also now an excuse to go out and tell even more people about what we do.”
This isn’t the first time that Oswalt has contributed to the organization, but this large donation was recognized by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay at the board’s meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 7).
Alice’s Kids was founded about 12 years ago by Fitzsimmons and his sister, Laura Fitzsimmons Peters. Naming the nonprofit after their mother, Alice Fitzsimmons, the siblings grew up in poverty in New York and knew what it meant not to have the money for the opportunities that other kids might.
When Fitzsimmons moved to the D.C. area for law school, he also began to substitute teach at Mount Vernon High School. Once, when he encountered a student who was crying because they couldn’t afford a prom ticket, he helped the student and realized there was a real need for an organization that helps kids with seemingly small items that can make a big difference.
That could mean money to throw a birthday party, a new pair of basketball shoes, or a costume for a part in a school play. Alice’s Kids provides the funds anonymously, often working through schools and social workers.
“We don’t pay for food. We don’t pay for medical assistance,” Fitzsimmons said. “So many other charities do that. We want to be totally unique.”
While Alice’s Kids initially focused on the Mount Vernon neighborhood and surrounding areas, it has expanded to become a national organization and now helps kids across the country.
With that growing reach came attention from some notable figures. It was perhaps 2016 when Fitzsimmons noticed a familiar name on a form for a very generous donation to Alice’s Kids.
“I see the name Patton Oswalt, and I look at my sister and say, ‘I know that name.’ And she said, ‘Ron, he was the voice of Remy and was in ‘King of Queens,'” he recounted. “He’s one of those guys that you might not know his name but then when [you see his picture] you go, ‘Oh, yeah!'”
He believes Oswalt, who’s originally from Sterling, made the donation at the suggestion of a social media follower. Also, Oswalt’s daughter is named Alice, cementing the connection. Fitzsimmons wrote Oswalt a short email thanking him for the donation.
“Literally, within an hour, he wrote back to me and said, ‘Ron, I’m so happy to help. It’s a great charity…Let me know if there’s anything else I can do,”‘ Fitzsimmons said. “And it went from there.”
Oswalt has now donated to Alice’s Kids multiple times and even dedicated stand-up shows to them. He also has encouraged other actors to donate and tweets about the organization often.
I LOVE getting to work with @alicewillhelp. With another school year underway, and SO many kids in need of some basic dignity and happiness, any help you can give can go SUCH a long way. https://t.co/IR3cFp1QGE pic.twitter.com/XmqqWUrMMh
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) October 8, 2019
Fitzsimmons said he has since become friendly with the comedian, who invited him backstage during a Kennedy Center performance, but he was still caught by surprise by Oswalt’s latest contribution, which will get the nonprofit a quarter of the way to its 2023 goal of raising a million dollars.
“He never told me about [Jeopardy]. I got an email from a producer there…He does things in a stealth way,” Fitzsimmons said said.
When asked about his selection of charity for “Celebrity Jeopardy,” Oswalt said in a comment to FFXnow that he loves “supporting Alice’s Kids because when they provide assistance anonymously, they help preserve the dignity of the child.”
He expressed a similar sentiment to host Mayim Bialik during Sunday’s finale:
I’m playing for this amazing new charity called Alice’s Kids. It’s a group that works with social workers, school counselors to get needy kids things they need for after-school activities to just make their lives better, but also to kind of keep their dignity. There’s a lot of poverty shaming that goes on in this country, and it really addresses that as well. They’re just an amazing group.
Fitzsimmons said he’s incredibly thankful and grateful to Oswalt for not just the donation, but bringing attention to the nonprofit he and his sister started to help kids experiencing the same challenges they once did.
“He kept tweeting about it. It was so cool. The money, of course, is amazing,” Fitzsimmons said. “But there’s the [awareness] value of this.”
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