The world could use some good news right about now, so here's my contribution.
You've probably never heard of Scott Neeson. He was enjoying a successful Hollywood career with senior marketing positions at 20th Century Fox and Sony. On a visit to Cambodia, he came upon Stoeng Meanchey, a notorious garbage dump where hundreds of homeless and impoverished children live and work, climbing through immense mountains of refuse to find materials to sell to survive.
Neeson was profoundly shaken by what he witnessed, and was forever changed. He started a program to try to help the kids, and then, in 2004, he quit Hollywood and moved full-time to Cambodia to build and run the Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF), a residential program for orphaned, abandoned, and abused children. Today, CCF serves 240 children, offering shelter, nutritional meals, a comprehensive education including English and Khmer reading and writing, math, computer training, in-house medical services, a cultural program of dance and drama, and a vocational training program.
Last week, Scott Neeson was honored as the recipient of the first-ever "Q Prize", a new international award created by music impresario Quincy Jones and the Harvard School of Public Health to recognize extraordinary leadership in advocacy for children. At an event in New York City to launch the Q Prize, something amazing happened. Neeson told the crowd of celebrities and financiers that he needed their help to stay afloat. Motivation coach Tony Robbins called out from the audience, asking how much. When Neeson answered $600,000, Robbins said he'd take care of one-third if others would match him. Designer Donna Karan raised her hand, followed quickly by nutrition guru Dr. Dean Ornish, and the deal was done, giving new meaning to "Let's Make a Deal." The entire $600,000 will go directly to CCF.
Since my goal is to spread good cheer, others who deserve thanks include the Swiss watch firm, Audemars Piguet, for hosting and underwriting the event; Sterling Stamos Capital and Time Warner for providing financial support for the Q Prize; and the Core Club for donating its meeting space for the event.
What Scott Neeson has done should inspire us all to "be the change in the world." There are plenty of ways to make a difference without moving to Cambodia. For example, a $10 donation will buy one insecticide-treated bed net which will protect an African child from deadly malaria-carrying mosquitoes that come out at night. For $10, you can literally save a life! And, if you organize a fundraiser--in your neighborhood, at work, or through the Internet-- you can protect the children of an entire African village. To learn more, go to MalariaNoMore.org.
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