Monday, April 23, 2007

She Completed Her 5K Walk
Charity Is More Than Just Giving

I can't tell you how many time I've gone to work and somebody has posted something to raise money for some charity or organization. Many times, I've donated or sponsored someone. Other times, I just flip my nose and move on. Heck, I'd probably never do one of these things. I couldn't waste my time. But yesterday, I got a bird's eye view of what it is all about. Maybe this is my opinion, and I think this time I was wrong!

Yesterday I got up at 5 AM to get my wife Lenea ready to do the 2007 Los Angeles Arthritis Walk. The Arthritis Walk® is the Arthritis Foundation’s annual event that raises awareness and funds to fight arthritis, Los Angeles' leading cause of disability. It is a tremendous opportunity to help improve the lives of the men, women and children with arthritis or chronic joint symptoms right here in Los Angeles. They walk every year to support Arthritis Foundation research, public health and public policy efforts to improve the lives of people with arthritis. This year they raised over $163,177.

My wife had a great time. With all of Lenea's medical ailments - knee operations, spine problems and total hip replacement, walking isn't easy for her. But yesterday, she did it. She walked 3 miles in support of her cause. She was in a lot of pain and finished about 4 away from the end. But she perservered and finished the race. She crossed the finish line after about 90 minutes to a small crowd of cheering people...including me! It was great moment for her. She even got a chance to talk with one of our local news anchors Linda Alvarez from CBS Channel 2 who's story on Arthritis inspired her to do the walk.

My wife Lenea didn't kill herself to raise money. She sent out e-mails and told her friends. She set a goal of $250.00 and reached it. Some people gave $10, others gave $100. It took a little persistance on her part but she figured that since she suffered from arthritis herself, why not walk to help find a cure. I guess that's what it's all about. If you want to see a video of her doing the walk, Click Here to visit her post-walk page!

So I thought to myself, what cause do I support? I support the ASPCA, Red Cross, Untied Way and others but usually only when their is a big need. But the other night, I saw actor Kevin Bacon talk about his charity organization he developed call Six Degrees.

You've probably heard of the Six Degrees concept. Any one person, including me and Kevin Bacon, is connected to any other person through six or fewer relationships, because it's a small world. Six is about using this idea to accomplish something good. It's social networking with a social conscience. Through this web site, you can learn about and support the charities of celebrities and your friends, as well as fundraise for the causes close to your heart.

Kevin started in partnership with the nonprofit Network for Good in January 2007, more than 10 years after the game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” made the rounds of college campuses and lived on to be a shorthand term for the small world phenomenon. It is his hope that Six Degrees will soon be something more than a game or a gimmick. It will also be a force for good.

So I thought to myself, what can I do? I liked the Six Degrees concept. I wanted to help some group. But who? Then it came to me. There are some people out there who are giving up their lives for us. And that's our people in the Armed Forces. Each year our local radio station KNX has a radiothon for the USO here in Los Angeles which provided housing and things for soldiers as they get ready to go overseas. The center here in Los Angeles was massively supported by Bob Hope - someone I always admired for his dedication to the USO.

So I jumped on the Six Degrees cause and created my badge which I will post on my blog and various websites to raise money for the USO. It's my chance to make a little difference in the world. So if you scroll down, on the right hand side you will find my badge. If you feel inspired, send them a few bucks. These soldiers need the services that the USO offers and it's easy to help them.

But with all of the charities out there, how do you know if they are on the up and up? That was my question. So I did a little research and found two groups who provide information on charities both national and local. These groups provided excellent research information for me to make my decision. Below is a brief outline of who they are. You can click on their logos to go to their websites.

The Alliance ( reports on nationally soliciting charitable organizations that are the subject of donor inquiries. These reports include an evaluation of the subject charity in relation to the voluntary Better Business Bureau standards.

Charity Navigator is America's premier independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of America's largest charities.

So the next time that someone puts up something asking you to donate or sponsor them in some walk, bike ride, race, etc., think about it. They are taking the time and personal effort to support a cause they believe in. That's got to mean something in today's world. My wife did it, my family and friends do it, now even I'm doing it (and yes I walked the entire 3 miles too!).

If we all gave a little effort, just like Lenea did in the Arthritis walk, maybe the world would be a better place. (And I'd have to stop doing this blog?!?!)