Image: Nate Berkus
Jason Kempin  /  Getty Images file
Designer Nate Berkus says cancer is close to his heart because his grandmother died from the disease.
NBC News
updated 4/20/2011 5:00:25 PM ET 2011-04-20T21:00:25

Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week, we speak with talk show host and interior designer Nate Berkus about his work with EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women,a charity event to raise money to fight women's cancers.

Berkus gained popularity making appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s show as her interior design guru. He now hosts his own nationally syndicated talk show, “The Nate Berkus Show.”

Berkus was on vacation in Sri Lanka in December 2004 when the tsunami hit. While he survived, then-partner Fernando Bengoechea did not. Since then, Berkus has made a point to be involved with numerous charitable causes.

EIF Revlon Run/Walk is a yearly event held in New York City and Los Angeles. Berkus will join fellow celebrities such as Jessica Biel  and Jimmy Fallon on April 30 to walk, jog or run the 5-kilometer course to raise money for the eradication of cancers in women.

Interviewed by Giacinta Pace

Q: When and why did you get involved with EIF Revlon Run/Walk, and what is your role with them?

Berkus: I am a co-host this year, along with brand ambassador Jessica Biel, Jimmy Fallon, Dr.Oz and actor Matt Bomer. This is my first year being involved, and I am really excited to be a part of it. I’ve always sponsored people, but have never participated personally. My grandmother had breast cancer, so it’s something that related (to) my family very closely.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the most important thing this organization does?

Berkus: I think that first of all, the level of awareness that this organization brings is enormous. The Run/Walk is synonymous with fundraising for cancer research. In my opinion, I think it brings people together, and that’s something that I really support, and really love. There’s probably going to be 20,000 people this year in New York City. All of the proceeds go to women’s cancer research and direct support programs for New York and also for the rest of the country.

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Q: What do you look forward to most on that day? What are your friends and family saying about your involvement with it this year?

Berkus: My friends and family are proud of me for being involved with it this year. I am always the kind of person who likes to find the story within the story, so truthfully, what I am looking forward to is meeting the people who are participating this year — finding out why they’re there, how their lives have been touched, and the stories of hope and survival. Also, finding out how they’re honoring the memory of people who have passed on.

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Q. How have the struggles you’ve endured in your life, specifically surviving the tsunami in Sri Lanka, affected your charity work in general?

I think that in general we have all been through something. It may be as big as a tsunami or cancer, but if not you know all pain is the same. My own personal experiences have made me more empathetic to realize and be aware that everyone walking around has survived something.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Berkus: No, I think we’ve pretty much covered the reason why I’ve signed up!

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