On Stage

Stiles’ Style

Giving back, giving big

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ryan Stiles may have spent many years living and working in the big city of Los Angeles, but since returning to the Bellingham area with his family nearly a decade ago, the famous actor and improviser has proven that he’s dedicated to the small town he now calls home.

In addition to providing the initial funding for the Upfront Theatre, Stiles still performs at the Bay Street space. But he does a whole lot more than that. Over the years, many improvisers have benefited both from his wisdom and from his generosity. Whether he’s inviting performers to join him on bigger stages beyond the Upfront or offering quick notes on a scene, Stiles is a celebrity who’s seemingly never let fame go to his head.

It’s not a surprise, then, to learn Stiles’ largesse isn’t just confined to what happens onstage. For the last few years, Stiles has used his fame to help raise funds for the Burned Children Recovery Foundation. In fact, since 2010, Stiles and his comedic cohorts have helped raise more than $420,000 for the nonprofit that has been “providing hope and new beginnings to burned children and their families since 1989.”

But rather than just appeal to the public for help with fundraising efforts, those who want to donate can expect to be entertained in a variety of ways.

First off, Stiles will return to the Mount Baker Theatre Fri., July 12 for a “Night of Comedy.” Per usual, he’ll be joined by a few familiar faces. Kathy Kinney, who played Mimi alongside Stiles in The Drew Carey Show, is the first performer of note. Richard Kind of Spin City and Jeff Davis—who was a regular on Whose Line is It Anyway?—will also show up to help make the night a success.

If you take part in all three fundraisers happening throughout the rest of the weekend, the aforementioned performers—plus a rotating roster of other comedians and actors—will become familiar faces. They’ll be there during a Celebrity Gala & Auction Sat., July 13 at the Silver Reef Casino, and on the greens at the 4th annual Ryan Stiles Celebrity Golf Classic happening Sun., July 14 at Blaine’s Loomis Trail Golf Club.

A hefty portion of the proceeds from the events will go to the foundation’s Camp Phoenix program, which, every summer, sees youth from around the country converge for a camp focusing on both learning and fun. In addition to meeting other kids who may be going through the same trials they are, the August gathering, held at Bellingham’s Camp Lutherwood, gives campers the skills they need to “live and rise above” the harassment they get in their everyday lives as burn survivors.

Once they’re there, there’s a pretty good chance that a local celebrity with size 15 shoes will stop by to see how things are going. And he won’t be there because he has to; he’ll be there because he wants to be.

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