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Senior Janice poses on the red carpet at AARP Movies for Grownups Awards event Hollywood

Janice Celebrates Life-Long Passion at the Movies for Grownups Awards in Hollywood

Growing up, Janice would spend hours in the movie theater, watching with wonder as stories came to life on the big screen.

“I’ve enjoyed movies since I used to go to the theater as a young girl,” she explained. “Back then, 35 cents would buy a ticket and a candy bar!”

At age 83, Janice’s fascination for movies has not faded. And those who know her well would tell you that her enthusiasm is contagious.

Like Nancy Andersen from AARP. Nancy and Janice met when Janice was volunteering at the AARP Nevada State office, and they quickly became friends. Nancy noted Janice’s love for movies and asked, “If we started a movie club, would you run it?” And that’s how the AARP Nevada Cinemaniacs Movie Club was born!

Janice shined as the leader of the group. Members talk about films, watch trailers, vote, and discuss all things cinema-related at meetings. When the pandemic stopped them from gathering in person, she helped the group pivot to using Zoom so they could continue to meet.

To this day, the Cinemaniacs Movie Club brings older adults together to enjoy movies and build friendships.

Since 2002, AARP’s Movies for Grownups multimedia franchise has provided weekly news and reviews, nationwide screenings, and an annual awards event to champion movies for grownups, by grownups. Knowing Janice’s dream was to attend their awards ceremony, Nancy reached out to her connections within AARP and secured an invitation for Janice to attend. It would take a chunk of her savings to travel and stay in California, but Janice was ready to make her dream of rubbing shoulders with the stars in Hollywood come true!

But, as the trip grew closer, Janice’s priorities shifted as one of her daughters faced a whirlwind of health and personal hardships.

Janice is no stranger to overcoming obstacles and sacrificing for her two daughters. As an army officer’s wife, she faced countless moves, taking on challenging jobs and building new social connections to help her family acclimate to a foreign country.

And so, Janice chose to forgo the trip and prioritize her daughter’s needs.

It was an easy choice for her, even though she felt this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity might never present itself again… until now!

 “Janice’s wish of a lifetime was to attend a major award show, and tonight, she’s living her dream.”

— Jeremy Bloom, Wish of a Lifetime founder

When Wish of a Lifetime heard Janice’s story, we jumped at the chance to help make her dream of attending an awards ceremony come true. With the help of the AARP Movies for Grownups team, we organized a VIP experience worthy of the incredible woman she is.

Lights, camera, action! Accompanied by her husband, Janice traveled to Beverly Hills, California, to attend the 21st Annual Movies for Grownups Awards. Her evening started with walking across the red carpet and having her photo snapped with leaders from Wish of a Lifetime and AARP.

Looking around her, Janice was starstruck. So many talented people she admired were in the same room mingling around her: actor Jeff Bridges, director Baz Luhrmann, and actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who received the Career Achievement Honor.

She was equally blown away by the warm welcome from everyone around her, especially when the evening’s host Alan Cumming took a selfie with her!

“The experience of being at an award presentation was unbelievable,” Janice said. “Who would ever think that I could imagine being present…it’s what I’ve always wanted.”

During the ceremony, Janice and her husband were seated with Jeremy Bloom, Wish of a Lifetime founder, and Tom Wagenlander, VP & Executive Director.

Janice’s positive outlook on aging fit right in with the comments made on stage, celebrating older actors and producers who challenge outdated views on aging.

But that wasn’t all. To her great surprise, Janice was recognized on stage! Her first shout-out was from our founder, Jeremy Bloom, in his introductory remarks, and again by Baz Luhrmann, who won the best director prize for Elvis.

 “I just want to thank this wonderful 80-year-old woman who runs a film club…Thanks for getting the older audiences out!

— Baz Luhrmann, Best Director

And then, Luhrmann complimented Janice on her exuberance! “I’ll have what she’s having!” he exclaimed.

For Janice, the evening was the culmination of a lifetime of weekends spent in movie theaters, every Cinemaniacs meeting, and all the times she felt inspired by moments on the big screen.

“Going to a film award event has been my dream for as long as I can remember,” she said. “My Wish of a Lifetime experience to attend the AARP Movie for Grownups Awards is something I will always cherish. It will serve as a constant reminder that all things are possible!”

You’re invited to see the magic for yourself! Watch the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards on TV on February 17 at 9 p.m. ET, on PBS’ Great Performances series (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf, and the PBS Video app.

Wish of a Lifetime is honored to be the beneficiary of the proceeds from the AARP Movies for Grownups® Awards this year. The $330,000 raised will fuel our work to grant life-changing wishes for older adults and redefine aging in America.

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