How Hollywood's Biggest Names Are Helping A Young Boy With A Serious Illness

Oprah, Jennifer Garner, and more raised $1 million.

In the past month and a half, some of Hollywood's biggest stars have come together to help a 6-year-old boy named Carter Sarkar. Carter has a fatal illness called Sanfilippo syndrome, also called "Childhood Alzheimer's." His parents started a GoFundMe to raise money for a clinical trial, and they reached their $1 million goal in 45 days.


According to the Sanfilippo Children's Foundation, the rare genetic disorder (which affects 1 in 70,000 children) is characterized by an enzyme deficiency, which causes damage to the brain, leading to a loss of speech and mobility, dementia, and eventually death. Although there is currently no cure, gene therapy is apparently the "most promising avenue" for treatment.

According to the family's GoFundMe, the money donated will go to the Cure Sanfilippo Foundation, which is funding research into an enzyme replacement therapy. Carter's parents, Jen and Samir, shared their hope that the campaign would go viral, and thanks to stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Garner, and Mark Wahlberg, that's exactly what happened.

The Hollywood Reporter points out that Katy Perry, Matthew McConaughey's Just Keep Livin Foundation, 20th Century Fox, and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, among others, also made "major donations." Many stars also shared a link to the GoFundMe on social media, using the hashtag #SavingCarter. Those names included Selena Gomez, Meghan Trainor, Judd Apatow, Debra Messing, Josh Groban, and Jamie Lee Curtis, who wrote, "Many need help. Today they get to the front of my line."

According to THR, Carter's parents own and operate L.A.-based company Fun & Sports. Stylist Rachel Zoe and casting director Francine Maisler said that "Coach Samir" has had a positive impact on their children's lives. "I couldn't be more blessed to work with parents who are showing support and spreading the word with their millions of followers," Samir told the publication.

As the Sanfilippo Children's Foundation explains, research towards a cure for the disease also "contributes to the development of treatments for more complex neurological disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases," so the generous donations could be helping many more people in addition to Carter and other children like him.

"Thank you so much for giving HOPE to Carter and so many other kids," the Sarkars wrote on GoFundMe when their goal was reached, promising to keep donors updated.

Cover image: Tinseltown / Tinseltown /


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