Conan O'Brien takes jabs at Donald Trump, stresses importance of work ethic at Beat the Odds Awards


The Children's Defense Fund-California hosted the 26th annual Beat the Odds Awards ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday night, where Hollywood supporters Tory Kittles, Jennifer Morrison, Timothy Olyphant, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and co-chair Milo Ventimiglia served as presenters. The awards honored five young Los Angeles high school students in recognition of their outstanding achievements, despite facing tremendous obstacles in their lives.

The Fund's long-time friend Conan O'Brien emceed the ceremony. "This is my 7th year participating. It's truly my favorite night of the year because tonight we celebrate five amazing young people who have overcome incredible odds. They are inspirations to all of us," said O'Brien in the opening remarks.

The late-night host praised the inspiring hard work that the honorees have accomplished and advised young teens to believe in the power of work ethic: "It's not a lesson that everyone wants to hear. But nothing beats hard work. Nothing at all."

See photos from the star studded Beat the Odds Awards red carpet:

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Beat the Odds Awards: Red carpet arrivals
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Beat the Odds Awards: Red carpet arrivals
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Keke Palmer arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: TV host/comedian Conan O'Brien (R) and wife Liza O'Brien arrive at the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Conan O'Brien arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Milo Ventimiglia arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Milo Ventimiglia arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Jennifer Morrison arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Jennifer Morrison arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Timothy Olyphant arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Timothy Olyphant arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Keke Palmer (C) arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Susan Yeagley (L) and Kevin Nealon arrive to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Kevin Nealon arrives to the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: The Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman arrives at the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: The Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman arrives at the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: Actor Tory Kittles arrives at the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 01: (L-R) Honorees Destiny Novillo and Cierra Gunderson, CDF President Marian Wright Edelman, and honorees Alexandra Flores and Jose Aceves arrive at the Children's Defense Fund-California's 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
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"Literally anyone can become the president," O'Brien teased as he took jabs at President-elect Donald Trump, before pleading to those in attendance, "I beg you, one of the honorees tonight, someday, to run and become the president. A serious president. No tweeting at three o' clock in the morning. Please, you can do that. We are relying on you. There has never been a more important and meaningful time than to have this event right now in this country."

The 2016 honorees included Alexander Flores, Cierra Gunderson, Jose Aceves, Florencia Valenzuela and Destiny Novillo. Each of them will receive a scholarship that includes up to $10,000 in scholarship money, on-going mentoring, internship placements, leadership development, and career guidance.

"The Children Defense Fund gives hope to young Angelinos regardless of race, gender, religion, or the nationality of their parents. It empowers young people from the most neglected communities in Los Angeles by awarding scholarship, providing internships, leadership training, and a support system for life," said O'Brien. The life development of Beat the Odds alumni proved the importance and meaning of this scholarship.

"They are engineers, doctors, artists, lawyers, educators. And they are all giving back to their communities," he added, as the attendees gave the alumni a standing ovation.

To prove the urgency of providing help for children, Jurnee Smollett-Bell laid out heartbreaking statistics: "Every 35 seconds a child is abused or neglected. Every 36 seconds a child is born into poverty. Every 47 seconds a baby is born without health insurance. Every 3 hours a child or teen is killed by a firearm. Every night over 200,000 children are homeless."

Despite the multifaceted struggles that children face, Marian Wright Edelmen, the president and founder of Children's Defense Fund, never feared to fight for children. She claimed, "This will be a very difficult and complicated time, but we just have to determine that we are going to move forward. And we are going to do whatever we have to to protect our children, to protect the gains of the past, and move our nation forward. We all just have to stay awake and stay alert, and stay determined, and speak out, and speak back and say we are not going to let our children and grandchildren fight all these battles over again."

RELATED: See photos of Donald Trump in his life leading up to the election:

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Donald Trump's life leading up to the election
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Donald Trump's life leading up to the election

Bound for the rigors of business school in the future, Donald Trump received discipline at an early age by attending a military academy. There, he reportedly excelled in extracurricular activities such as being the Honor Cadet.

Donald Trump in the New York Military Academy's 1964 yearbook

Source: Classmates

As someone who loves the art of negotiation, Donald Trump was able to negotiate New York City to provide a 40-year tax abatement for the Grand Hyatt Hotel — the first ever granted to a commercial property.

(Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Master renovator: Trump offered to renovate decrepit areas in need, such as a long-closed ice-skating rink, at no profit to himself, after the city's renovation effort went through five years of delays and more than double the original cost estimate.

(Photo by Michael Schwartz / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

Trump's enterprise also stretched out into sports, where he was the original owner of the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - CIRCA 1983: Team Owner Donald Trump announces he has signed Herschel Walker to play running back for the New Jersey Generals in New Jersey. Walker played for the General form 1983-85.

(Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)

Trump owns a fleet of luxury helicopters.

Donald Trump, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, and billionare, utilizes his personal helicopter to get around on August 1987 in New York City.

(Photo by Joe McNally/Getty Images)
Trump was also notorious for befriending attractive supermodels. His first wife, Ivana, a Czech-American, was a member of the social elite.

Ivana Trump and Donald Trump are seen in December 1982 in New York City.

(Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
No expense was spared for his belongings, as Donald Trump once paid the sultan of Brunei $30 million for a nearly 300-foot yacht.

American businessman Donald Trump and his wife Ivana sit at a table on board their luxury yacht The Trump Princess, anchored outside the Water Club, New York City, July 1988.

(Photo by Tom Gates/Getty Images)
To test the political waters, the potential Reform Party presidential candidate traveled to several areas to address party leaders.

New York real estate developer Donald Trump (L) answers questions as Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura looks on in Brooklyn Park, January 7. Trump said on Friday he "very well might" make a run for president under the Reform Party banner but had not made a final decision. "I'm looking very seriously if I can win," he told reporters. "And if I can win, I believe I can do a very good job." Trump came to Minnesota to raise money for the party's highest elected official, Governor Ventura, who made it clear that he and the New York developer were on the same wavelength.

(STR New / Reuters)

Trump also enjoys tennis — he even played a round, wearing his traditional suit, against the legendary Serena Williams.

Developer Donald Trump talks with his former wife Ivana Trump during the men's final at the U.S. Open September 7, 1997. REUTERS/File Photo 

He also became the owner of the infamous Miss Universe beauty pageant for many years.

Donald Trump and Miss Connecticut USA Erin Brady poses onstage after winning the 2013 Miss USA pageant at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on June 16, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)

Unbeknownst to many, Donald Trump is a formidable opponent on the green. He owns 15 golf courses.

Donald Trump announced on Saturday, 11/9/02 a major addition to his West Coast properties as he purchased the Ocean Trails Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes. He discussed the improvements and additions to the club to members of the Rancho Palos Verdes community on Saturday morning. Ocean Trails made headlines in 1999 when days before its scheduled opening, part of the course's 18th hole slid into the Pacific Ocean. The club will reopen in June, 2003 under Trump's direction. 

(Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Sometimes, negotiating can be a tough sport. What better way to exert your dominance by taking the center stage among the world's most bombastic figures?

Donald Trump, Stone Cold Steve Austin and WWE wrestler Bobby Lashley get ready to shave Vince McMahon's head after McMahons lost the main event of the night, 'Hair vs. Hair', between Vince McMahon and Donald Trump. WrestleMania 23 at Detroit's Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on April 1, 2007.

(Photo by Leon Halip/WireImage)

As the fog of the political battlefield has cleared on the Republican side, Trump is now preparing for a likely battle with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump (C), flanked by his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., addresses the media in Chicago May 10, 2006. Trump was in Chicago to speak about his Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago that is being built on the old site of the Chicago Sun-Times building on the north side of the Chicago River.

(REUTERS/Stephen J. Carrera)

Being the entertaining host, Trump also spared no expense in providing a spectacular show for friends and family.

 Developer and multi-millionaire Donald Trump (R) watches as ex-wife Marla Maples gets a kiss from Earl Sinclair of TV's 'Dinosaurs' during lunch at the Trump Plaza Hotel November 2, 1992. REUTERS/Henry Ray Abrams

As a self-proclaimed family man, Trump attended many public events and television shows with his family, even before his current campaign.

 Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump attend U.S. Open Tennis Tournament on August 30, 1991 at Flushing Meadows Park in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Source: Oprah

Trump first started showing signs of interest for a possible bid for the US presidency with the formation of a presidential exploratory committee ahead of the 2000 election.

Billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump (R) talks with host Larry King after taping a segment of King's CNN talk show, in New York October 7. Reuters

Source: Reuters

In 2005, Donald Trump married fashion designer and model Melania Trump.

Real estate magnate Donald Trump (L) and Melania Trump leave Hollinger International's annual meeting at the Metropolitan Club in New York on May 22, 2003.

REUTERS/Peter Morgan PM/ME

Source: PolitiFact

As no stranger to the political process, Donald Trump was even acquainted with members of the judicial branch.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (L), serving as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500, speaks to Donald Trump  on the starting grid at the Daytona International Speedway February 14. JLS/ELD

Trump famously launched his presidential campaign in June 2015 by coming down an escalator in Trump Tower. Since then, he has weathered waves of controversy to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

 (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)

Trump made his final appeal to voters in swing-states as the contentious campaign drew to a close.

 Donald Trump speaks at a rally at SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH, on Nov. 7, 2016, the night before election day. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

President-elect Trump at his election night party at the Hilton Hotel in New York City.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during his election night event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Read more: Children's Defense Fund Founder Blasts Gun Violence: "We've Got to Retire the NRA"


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