It's an honor to spread the word that between now and May 17, more than one hundred leaders in politics, media, Hollywood, and sports are teaming up as part of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights' fifth annual online auction to support human rights worldwide.
I'm touched by the outpouring of generosity we've received from our friends and supporters, especially during a year when so much of our work's impact has come into clear, personal focus.
A little over a month ago, my 14-year-old daughter Michaela and I were en route to Easter Sunday mass in Acapulco when we were threatened and detained by eight soldiers in battle fatigues brandishing automatic weapons. We were in Mexico visiting the RFK Center's 2010 Human Rights Laureate, Abel Berrera from Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre, who has dedicated his career to protecting indigenous communities from military abuses like this and worse.
Our ordeal was harrowing, but unlike so many of the people Abel represents, we were safely freed 30 minutes later. In the weeks since, that raid has remained a reminder of why our support for defenders like Abel and his colleagues is so important.
Also last month, we welcomed our 2006 and 2011 Laureates to the United States to drum up support for the human rights battles they're fighting at home. Our 2006 Laureate, Aminatou Haidar, met with government agencies and United Nations in an effort to bring human rights protections to the Western Sahara, a region that has been home to decades of violent persecution against the Sahrawi people. And Frank Mugisha, our newest Laureate, met with Congress offices, faith leaders, and journalists to spread awareness about a bill pending in the Ugandan Parliament that would make homosexuality punishable with the death penalty.
People like Abel, Aminatou, and Frank are our world's true heroes, stars in the field of moral courage. This is the work I think of when donations and bids come in during our auctions each year. We can continue to support these courageous defenders in part because world leaders, celebrities, athletes, and musicians believe in our work and are willing to contribute their time to an auction package -- and because individuals around the country join us by bidding on these experiences.
The auction is a rare opportunity to bid on unforgettable personal experiences while lending your support to the RFK Center's core programs. This year's unique packages include:
• Meet President Clinton at a VIP reception following an upcoming speech
• Greet the cast of AMC's Mad Men in Los Angeles
• Play tennis with John McEnroe at Randall's Island in New York City
• Walk the red carpet for Meryl Streep's upcoming film Great Hope Springs
• Meet Alec Baldwin on the set of NBC's 30 Rock
• Be part of Bravo's Top Chef famous Restaurant Wars episode
• Witness President Obama accept the nomination at the DNC in September
Funds raised by the auction will help realize Robert Kennedy's dream of a more just and peaceful world.
Please visit www.rfkcenter.org to bid on more than 100 experiences, including walk-on roles in Hollywood movies, set visits, private lunches, sporting events, and much more.