LOS ANGELES — Celine Dion's emotional premiere of her song Recovering proved a powerful ending to the Stand Up To Cancer 2016 televised fundraising event Friday night.
Dion's song expressing the grief of losing her husband, René Angélil, who died in January after a long battle with cancer, capped the star-studded evening dedicated to raising money to fight the deadly disease.
Stars such as Bradley Cooper, Tom Hanks, Emma Stone, Josh Gad, Viola Davis, Anna Kendrick, Kristen Wiig, Rob Riggle and event co-founder Katie Couric took part in Stand Up at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Each talked from the stage about how cancer has affected their own lives.
Even Vice President Joe Biden swooped into Los Angeles for a surprise appearance. Biden lost his 46-year-old song Beau to brain cancer in May.
"He was full of hope up to the end," Biden said. "He learned what we’re learning tonight, we’re at a tipping point in the fight against cancer….We are on the cusp of ending cancer as we know it."
The fifth biennial Stand Up special aired on all major networks on Friday and will continue to stream on Hulu, raising donations through the weekend.
Actress Kathy Bates fought back tears from the stage as she said it was a "big deal to say that I survived breast and ovarian cancer," urging donations for more research.
"I wouldn’t be standing here tonight if it wasn’t for the progress research has made in recent decades," said Bates.
Before taking the stage to close the show, Dion was one of many celebrities who answered phone calls for donations. Her brother Daniel, 59, died of cancer two days after her husband's death in January. Her father Adhemar also died of cancer in 2003.
Hanks introduced Dion onstage as "a woman who knows all too well why we must stand up." Hanks then watched Dion's performance from the green room of the concert hall, placing his arm around his wife Rita Wilson as two were transfixed by the performance on the monitors.
Wilson was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2015. After a double mastectomy, the actress revealed in December that she was cancer-free.
"The song was very moving," Hanks told USA TODAY afterwards. "And (Dion's) connection is very moving too. It was pretty powerful."
Hanks said he dedicated the evening to his wife's cancer battle.
"I saw her shift her world like she was Atlas herself," said Hanks. "It was very impressive."
But, Hanks added that fighting cancer was an important cause for everyone.
"You have to do this," said Hanks. "One of out of every three women and one out of every two men is going to come down with cancer. That's a real eye-opener."