Nia Vardalos’ father Gus passed away on March 12 in Winnipeg, Canada, at 87 years of age. He had been in declining health for some time.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions, the actress was not allowed to fly back to Winnipeg to see her father on his death bed, or even attend his funeral.
She did get to say one final goodbye via FaceTime, however. Vardalos told Variety magazine that the medical staff “held up the phone to him and I got to thank him for an incredible life and tell him he was a gentleman and he was a great dad. My mom held his hand and said, ‘It’s okay for you to go.'”
Gus Vardalos’ funeral was live-streamed from the Canadian church in which it was held, in order to enable friends and family from Greece, Australia, the US and Canada to pay their respects.
After her father’s death, Nia has poured her grief into trying to help others. Using the hashtag #bigfatdonation, she is encouraging people on Twitter and Instagram to donate to legitimate charities which are in desperate need of their help.
Two of the first people to step up to the challenge were Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, who donated money to an outreach program for the elderly run by Gus Vardalos’ church, even as they themselves were battling coronavirus in Australia.
Other celebrities, including Michael Chiklis, donated to organizations specifically devoted to battling the pandemic, such as Big Sunday, an LA organization getting masks and gloves to hospitals.
Please consider giving a #bigfatdonation to charities such as Big Sunday or any other charity providing help during the coronavirus pandemic.