Gilda Radner left behind some of the most memorable characters in TV history, but apparently her memory is not enough for one chapter of Gilda's Club, which helps those who have battled cancer. The Madison, Wisconsin group changed its name to the Cancer Support Community Southwest Wisconsin, sparking outrage from Radner fans and other branches of Gilda's Club.
"We are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis," executive director Lannia Syren Stenz told the Wisconsin State Journal. "We want to make sure that what we are is clear to them and that there's not a lot of confusion that would cause people not to come in our doors."
Yet Gilda's Club has chapters throughout the world and is already established as a cancer support center. Radner herself battled ovarian cancer and used her experience to help others. The center chose the name as tribute to a woman who had incredible strength and a national following.
"Gilda Radner is very much a part of the fiber of this organization," Linda House, executive vice president of the national group told the Associated Press. "There has never been an intent and there is no intent to lose Gilda as part of the organization."
"Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I'd rather not belong to," Radner famously said after her diagnosis. Gilda's Club was founded in 1991, five years after her diagnosis; it merged with The Wellness Community in 2009 and local chapters could choose which name to take.
According to reports, of the 56 chapters around the world, 20 are known as Gilda's Club, while 23 are Cancer Support Community, and three remain the Wellness Community.
Fans and members of Gilda's Club are outraged and feel it's disrespectful to a woman whose legacy should be honored.
"Point is, let's let the young 'uns know about Gilda Radner, and not just for her comedy work, but her noble Cancer awareness work," tweeted Paul Meyers.
"Genuinely upset that some Gilda's Club clubhouses are changing the name because 'some people don't remember Gilda Radner.' Not the point," added Maureen Johnson.
A petition has been drafted to encourage the group to change its name back to Gilda's Club.
"Gilda Radner faced cancer with dignity, grace and humor. Teach them that, rather than forget it," tweeted Mark Forward.