A ‘Big Bang Theory’ Fan Inspired Melissa Rauch’s Charity Oscar’s Kids

The Big Bang Theory ended in 2019 but it’s still making an impact on the world. Melissa Rauch, who played Bernadette Wolowitz, nee Rostenkowski, on the show has launched a charity that began with a Big Bang Theory Fan. Oscar’s Kids is an organization to raise awareness and funding for pediatric cancer. Rauch launched Oscar’s Kids on Sept. 9 with her husband, Winston, and Oscar Keogh’s parents Yavanna and Lar. 

Big Bang Theory star Melissa Rauch stands by a Fiji water station
Melissa Rauch | Erik Voake/Getty Images for FIJI Water

Rauch spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone on Sept. 21 about Oscar’s Kids. We’ll have more with Rauch on The Big Bang Theory and upcoming Night Court revival, but first here’s how you can get involved with Oscar’s Kids. 

The ‘Big Bang Theory’ fan who touched Melissa Rauch’s heart

Oscar was diagnosed with DIPG, a rare form of pediatric cancer, when he was 3 ½. Rauch learned about him when his mother contacted her.

“We connected because he was a big Big Bang fan,” Rauch told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “His mom reached out shortly after he was diagnosed because they were packing just as much joy as possible into their son’s life as possible and reaching out to different people whose shows they watched.”

The Keoghs lived in Ireland so Rauch never met Oscar in person. They connected remotely until Oscar died at age 5. 

Melissa Rauch and Simon Helberg hold hands on the couch
Simon Helberg and Melissa Rauch | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

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“After Oscar’s passing, his parents had been doing a lot of fundraising in Ireland in his name,” Rauch said. “My husband and I really wanted to do what we could to honor Oscar’s life. So we joined forces with Yavanna and Lar, Oscar’s parents to create Oscar’s Kids. They’re running the Ireland division where they’re based and we’re running the U.S. chapter.”

Rauch remembered Oscar’s favorite parts about The Big Bang Theory.

“I feel so lucky that Big Bang was one of the shows he liked and brought him happiness,” Rauch said. “He loved watching it, he loved the theme song and I was just so fortunate that he did so that I was able to meet him. I think it was one of the many beautiful things about Big Bang was the opportunity to get to connect with people from all over the world and especially incredibly special people like Oscar.”

Melissa Rauch’s goals for Oscar’s Kids 

This and other interviews are one step in raising awareness for DIPG. Rauch said Oscar’s Kids will raise funds for research, too.

“Pediatric cancer research funding is wildly underfunded,” Rauch said. “Only 4% of funding in the U.S. goes to pediatric cancer and of course even a smaller amount of that to DIPG.”

Big Bang Theory star Melissa Rauch poses with a hand on her hip
Melissa Rauch | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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Oscar’s Kids has teamed up with Dr. Michelle Monje at Stanford University, who is specializing in pediatric neural oncology. 

“All the efforts and all the money that we raise here in the States this year for Oscar’s Kids will all be going to the research that she’s done,” Rauch said. “There’s just this incredible, cutting edge groundbreaking research. I’m really honored to be supporting all the work she’s doing.”

The next steps for Oscar’s Kids

Rauch said you can expect at least one Oscar’s Kids charity event by the end of 2021. It will likely be virtual, but future events can be bigger. 

“We’re getting the wheels in motion for that now,” Rauch said. “There should be something in early November. We’re hoping to do some virtual event before the end of the year.”

Oscar’s Kids will likely bring Rauch into contact with more families like the Keoughs. As difficult as it was to lose Oscar, the rewards inspired Rauch to continue helping families.

“I’’m so grateful for the beauty of that relationship,” Rauch said. “It’s one of the most meaningful parts of this job and the thing that I love the most. So I very much love getting to meet anyone who feels a connection that way. Children especially is such a beautiful part of this job.”

Sources: Stanford University, Oscar’s Kids