Friday, June 29, 2012

Bryce Harper — spur of the moment charitable star

If one thing doesn't lead to another.

Washington Nationals rookie star Bryce Harper first became an Internet sensation of sorts when the 19-year-old told a Toronto reporter, "That's a clown question, bro," when asked if he would take advantage of Canada's lower drinking age.

From there, a Denver brewery decided to make a beer by that name.

And now, Harper suggests the brewer donate a portion of proceeds to benefit the orphaned daughter of a single-mother Denver police officer killed in the line of duty.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sanya Richards-Ross goes for the gold to offer help

Photo from
Jamaican-American sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross just qualified for her third Olympics with a strong performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials, setting a course record in the 400 meters.

She's determined to make this a better time in London than four years ago in Beijing:
Richards-Ross has a chance to erase a bad memory in London. She was a disappointed third in Beijing in 2008 but returned in 2009 to win the world championship in the 400. But the loss at the Olympics still stings and it has served as motivation for four years.

She has also dealt with a mysterious illness, which may have been originally misdiagnosed. In 2007, doctors told her she had Behcet's syndrome, an illness that caused lesions on her skin and sores in her mouth among a variety of other symptoms. She underwent treatment for Behcet's through 2010 when she was having a particularly difficult bout.

At that point, Richards-Ross was referred to another doctor, who diagnosed her with a treatable skin disease. Since then the pain that flared in her joints has dissipated and her workouts have flourished.
It's that same refusal to quit that leads into her charitable life. 

Fittingly, her primary charity is known as the Fast Track Program. Richards-Ross is working to improve literacy and math skills in her native Jamaica through this charity, which partners with the nation's government. Full grade level improvement has been reported in many cases.

But that's not the only charitable work for the woman named Visa Humanitarian of the Year. She's part of the Livestrong charitable athletes' team of cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, for example. And, she has a scholarship program and other charitable activities, too.

Keep an eye on her on the track in London; as her bio notes, she's run more sub-50 400s than any other woman in history.

Monday, June 25, 2012

MLB star hits Skid Row

Dodgers reliever Josh Lindblom speaks with Charles, a St.
Louis native who lives in a nearby shelter/Yahoo
No, drugs or alcohol haven't obliterated the life of a former major leaguer. Instead, an active player, the L.A. Dodgers' Josh Lindblom, is volunteering to go to those "fabled" streets and bring food to the homeless, while also sharing his religious beliefs, but not pushing them on people.

First, I like his honesty. He admits he was scared when he first went down there.

Second, I like the fact that he's not "preachy." Here's his take on the situation in the area:
"It's not God who has failed us, it's us who have failed all these people," Josh said. "They're just family members who've fallen on hard times." 
Let's all agree on that, whether we believe what Josh does or not. We, as a society, may have failed these people.

Josh isn't failing them though. His Josh Lindblom Foundation just launched.

And, Josh sounds like he's not a fake about any of this. From the same Yahoo story:
We wanted to make a change in people's lives," he said. "What they don't know is the change they're making in my heart. There's nowhere else I'd rather be." 
Let's hope his hope rubs off on the people he is trying to help. Click the link above to learn more about that help he wants to offer.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ken Rosenthal - not a player, still a charity all-star

If you're a baseball fan, you're probably familiar with Fox Sports broadcaster and commentator Ken Rosenthal.

But, you may not be familiar with the story behind his bow ties. (There's often a story behind a man who regularly wears bow ties, I think, but that's a matter for other blogging.)

It actually starts with a player, though -- Dhani Jones, shown here being interviewed by Ken, at right.

The 11-year NFL veteran (I think of Alan Page when I see him in the bow tie) saw Rosenthal wearing one on TV during last year's World Series and said he had to talk to him, specifically about Jones' Bow Tie Project. Rosenthal, wearing his World Series bow tie under Fox orders, decided to listen,

The story about how this developed is here.

The idea goes back to Jones' college days, and took off from there.

Here's the basics:
In 1999, Dhani Jones’ senior year at Michigan, his best friend, Kunta Littlejohn, was diagnosed with lymphoma.

The next year, the New York Giants selected Jones in the sixth round of the NFL draft. Jones, who is from Potomac, Md., had never lived in New York. Littlejohn felt compelled to offer him some advice.

“If you want to be anybody, you’re got to rock a bow tie,” Littlejohn said.

Jones responded as 99 percent of the male population would.

“Man, you’re crazy,” he said. “I’m not wearing a bow tie.”

At the time, Littlejohn was in remission but facing a challenging time in his recovery. Jones said he began wearing a bow tie in “quiet support” of his friend.

Today Littlejohn is in full remission, and Jones is the father of a cause.
And, that cause is now Rosenthal's as well, wearing a different bow tie every week.

Want to know more? Here's information on the one he wore on air Saturday, June 23, in the Mets-Yankees game, pictured at right. Ken's making a statement, not just a fashion statement, with these ties. (That said, many of them are snazzy, yet understated.) A lot of these charities are small, and specialized in their focus. They would attract little attention without Ken's willingness to partner with Dhani on this.

Ken says more ties are in development. Don't know if he'll take suggestions as to what charities to support (or bow tie design) but, it's worth a shot. Here's his Twitter account. ( @Ken_Rosenthal )

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lance Armstrong — unashamed about cancer

Lance Armstrong, courtesy Wikipedia.
It's impossible to talk about athletes who are superstars in the world of charitable organizations without thinking of cyclist Lance Armstrong.

That's in large part because his connection to the focus of his charity is more personal than many athletes.

Armstrong, whose Lance Armstrong Foundation is devoted to recovery from cancer, post-cancer quality of life, cancer awareness, research funding and more, is himself a cancer survivor. And, testicular cancer is both fairly rare, and a type of cancer about which it could be easy to be embarrassed.

But, he wasn't.

He was open about his type of cancer and his treatment. It's that type of openness that, per Wikipedia, accounts for its success.
 The foundation has become one of the top 10 groups funding cancer research in the U.S., raising more than $325 million from the sale of yellow Livestrong bracelets.
That, in turn, allows for the breadth of the foundation's work.

Programs include an anti-stigma campaign, various programs for support of youth recovering from cancer, fertility support, and a survivor empowerment initiative.

There's other good stuff there, too.

For example, two research programs funded by the foundation look at specific issues of cancer treatment, survival, and post-survival recovery life faced by African-Americans and Native Americans.

The foundation is very open about its funding and disbursements, too. As a top cancer charity, it is committed to the openness that seems to typify Armstrong otherwise.

And, as a cyclist in an individual sport and now semi-retired, Armstrong is easily able to take the message of his foundation around the country.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Test post for Technorati

I'm simply doing this for it to pick up my RSS feed. I'll delete after I get a confirmation.


Derek Jeter: A heart for kids at risk

Kids like these get help from Turn 2.
I previously profiled Albert Pujols as among Major League Baseball's top charitable organizers.

Now it's time to look at a man who proudly wears the New York Yankee pinstripes on the field and the mantle of community leader outside the foul lines — Derek Jeter.

You can learn more about Turn 2 through its official site via Derek's MLB page. (Gentle chide to Mr. Jeter — especially for your post-baseball life, it would be great for you to set up a separate website, and even a Facebook page, for Turn 2. Take a look at what Albert did).

That said, this is a dream Derek has had for some time:
"If I make it to the Major Leagues," he told his father, "I want to set up a foundation that will have a positive impact on kids. I want to help nurture dreams. I want to show kids there's another way to go." 
And, it's been a smash hit for "Mr. November," who hasn't had a problem being a winner off the field.

The foundation's focus is to help keep teens away from drugs and alcohol, or get them off if they've started down that road. Here's more:
Since its launch in 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded more than $16 million in grants to create and support programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol, and "Turn 2" healthy lifestyles. Derek chose to concentrate his efforts in West Michigan where he grew up, New York City, where he works, and Hillsborough County, Fla., where he lives. Derek's goal is to guide kids in the right direction and help them become the leaders of tomorrow. Through the Turn 2 Foundation, he can take his passion for youth and his desire to give back to the community and mobilize it into a very positive force. The Foundation uses this force to support programs that promote healthy lifestyles, academic achievement and leadership development among youth.

In addition to contributing his own funds, Derek hosts his annual Derek Jeter Celebrity Golf Classic in Tampa, Fla., and the Turn 2 Foundation Dinner in New York City to raise capital needed to successfully continue his many signature programs including Jeter’s Leaders, Turn 2 Us Healthy Lifestyles, Turn 2 After School, Turn 2 Baseball Clinics, Proud To Be Me, Turn 2 Smart Moves, Holiday Express and the Turn 2 Endowed Scholarships. Recently, the Turn 2 Foundation donated $500,000 to launch the Derek Jeter Academy at Phoenix House in Tampa, an outpatient counseling center for troubled teens combining individual and family substance abuse treatment. 
Phoenix House is itself a "name" in the recovery field, so you know this is a case of one All-Star teaming up with another.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Albert Pujols: The charity continues, no matter the location

Albert Pujols walks the walk with his charity work.
As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I was disappointed to see slugger Albert Pujols leave via free agency for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

But, the Pujols Family Foundation is always on deck, no matter what city Albert is in and no matter where in the batting order he is slotted.

And that's not just a baseball analogy:
The Pujols Family Foundation (PFF) is pleased to announce its launch as a National organization. The PFF is expanding its mission to include St. Louis, Southern California, Kansas City, Missouri and Nashville, Tennessee by the end of 2012. The national effort is an extraordinary opportunity to positively impact the lives of thousands of children and adults living with Down syndrome.  
Southern California is an obvious expansion area. I'm not sure about Nashville, but maybe someone has information?

But, even though Albert is not a Cardinal, the foundation's headquarters is staying put:
The Foundation headquarters will remain in St. Louis so program development and community service will continue to thrive. The goal is to raise awareness, provide hope, as well as create supportive, memorable experiences for individuals and families living with Down syndrome. The PFF looks forward to partnering with other Down syndrome organizations that provide comprehensive resources.

“The Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis looks forward to continued collaborations in providing services and ensuring that the individuals that mean so much to both of our organizations will know we work together to make a difference in the quality of their lives,” expressed Dianne Schuch, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis.

Over the years, many sports and entertainment greats have attended PFF events in support of the foundation to further the success of its vision by contributing their time and resources. Celebrities who have attended past events in support of the PFF include legends such as Stan Musial, Chuck Berry, Bo Jackson, Lou Brock, Shaquille O’Neal, Daryl Strawberry, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Meadowlark Lemon, Tony LaRussa, Don Mattingly and many more.
Anyway, at least in the off-season, I hope he comes back to St. Louis and stays involved. Helping the mentally challenged is itself a challenge. He's not a fake at this, as 60 Minutes documented. In fact, he's rated as one of the five most charitable baseball players, along with the likes of Derek Jeter.

After leaving St. Louis, some fans thought his religious belief was fake, or that he ultimately worshiped greed. Well, let's just let stuff play out off the baseball field separately.