Excelsior names Roseanne Barr as 2015 Triumphant Woman

Roseanne Barr will be honored at annual Triumphant FACES Gala – Feb. 20, 2015

Roseanne-Barr-pic-WEBIt’s official – Excelsior’s 2015 Triumphant Woman will be Roseanne Barr! Roseanne (actor, comedian, writer, producer, director, and 2012 Presidential candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party) will be honored during Excelsior’s Triumphant FACES Gala on February 20, 2015, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will support victims of Human Trafficking and Trauma. Susan Hébert, Chief Executive Officer of Excelsior Youth Center says, “Since Roseanne Barr is a long-time supporter of this important issue, she is the ideal candidate to be honored as our Triumphant Woman. Roseanne has overcome significant challenges in her personal and professional life and proves that regardless of your past and no matter how many challenges you are faced with, you can still make a huge impact in our world.”

Excelsior Youth Center created the Triumphant Woman Award in 2008 to recognize women who have made the difficult journey of overcoming challenges to achieve greatness. Triumphant Woman honorees may have encountered troubled backgrounds, dysfunctional families, poverty or other extreme challenges. They are honored for beating the odds and becoming pillars of the community, displaying characteristics worthy of a role model to Excelsior girls.

Roseanne grew up in SLC Utah, in an apartment house owned and operated by her grandparents, who sponsored many Jewish refugees and survivors of Hitler’s Germany. Roseanne entertained them on Friday nights, Shabbat, by singing, dancing and telling jokes in her grandmother’s living room after the Sabbath meal. The holocaust affected Roseanne’s family in many sad and dysfunctional ways.

At 16 years old, Barr was hit by a car that left her with a traumatic brain injury, which significantly altered her life in many ways. It made it impossible to continue high school, as she lost, for a decade, the ability to focus, or to complete day-to-day tasks, and she began to have auditory hallucinations. She was admitted to the Utah State hospital for eight months.

At age 18, Roseanne got pregnant and went to live at a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers in Denver. She gave birth to a daughter and felt it was in the child’s best interest to be placed for adoption. As difficult as that decision was, it was also the catalyst for another life change. Roseanne intuitively felt that she would be reunited with her daughter when she turned eighteen. She wanted her daughter to be proud of her when and if they were to ever meet again. As she had always envisioned, she was reunited with that daughter, just days before she turned eighteen, and after 26 years they remain very close.

During her stay at the girls’ home, she met another girl with whom she moved to Georgetown, Colorado. They lived in an artist commune and worked minimum wage jobs, washing dishes for twelve hours a day, six days a week, earning $45/week. She married and had three more children.

Barr’s rise to fame was riddled with difficulty and discrimination. As a female, Barr was constantly ridiculed for her ambition in a male-dominated arena. Still, Barr embraced who she was and used her own personal life to guide her comedy routines. “Few women in the field of stand-up comedy have ever made such a resonant impact as Roseanne and her success has paved the way for other females in the industry,” says Lannie Garrett, Denver entertainer and former Excelsior Triumphant Woman. She continues to speak and write on behalf of all issues of equality, from GLBTQ to Native American issues, mental health issues, and issues of trafficking. Her declaration, “No one gives you power, you just take it” has been quoted worldwide.

Clearly, Roseanne Barr is triumphant and we are excited to honor her at our Triumphant FACES Gala on February 20, 2015. This year’s Gala will be a Black-tie Masquerade Ball, featuring Big Bad Voodoo Daddy as the entertainment to complement the Mardi Gras theme.  Ticket information is available here.