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Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 7-Ivanka Trump

The female heir to the tremendous Trump throne is also a key player in the hit show we’ve been talking about all week, Celebrity Apprentice.  Sure she’s business savvy, but this blonde bombshell has also made a name for herself in the modeling industry.  She’s walked down the runway for Versace, posed for Tommy Hilfiger ads, and even graced that very coveted cover of Harper’s Bazaar.  She also recently became a wife, one day after my own wedding I might add, and is due to become a mother this summer.  Oh, and in her “spare time” she is trying to save the world one charity at a time.  I’m thankful that I keep finding these great female role models to write about, be inspired by, and strive to be like.

A few years back Ivanka served as the Honorary Chair for Miracle on Madison Avenue that benefits The Children’s Aid Society in New York City.  In this annual holiday season event over 75 retailers along the swanky Madison Ave. donate 20% of their revenue for the day to CAS.  CAS has simple mission: help children in poverty succeed and thrive.  The success that they have had over the past 150 years in reaching this goal is what makes them a vital part of the New York city community today, tomorrow, and essentially forever.  CAS works with children before their even born with their prenatal care programs and sticks with them through their high school years as they decide where their future lies.  Any Trump baby is clearly going to be born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth, but Ivanka is making sure more and more kids are getting the love and support they need.  Ms. Trump was also a presenter at the 10th Annual Women Who Care Luncheon, which benefits United Cerebral Palsy of New York, just last month.  The sold out event which attracted 600 attendees honored Lauren Bush from the FEED Foundation and Petra Nemcova from the Happy Hearts Foundation just to name a few.  UCP NY is the leading non-profit agency in the city providing of services for children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.  All of their programs work towards their mission of creating opportunities for people with disabilities to live independent and fulfilling lives for the past 65 years.  I know I take my independence for granted pretty much daily, so I’m thankful for this jarring reminder that not everyone has that luxury.

Ivanka performing miracles on Madison Avenue

The Children’s Aid Society Donation

United Cerebral Palsy New York Donation

So here’s to you Ivanka Trump!  You are sassy, beautiful, intelligent, and a true role “model” for young and not-so-young women alike.  You have proven to us out here in the real world that is possible to have it all if you work hard and keep your priorities in line.  You make sure you play your trump card when it really counts, especially when it’s for a charity.

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 6-John Rich

And the winner of Celebrity Apprentice season 4 finale is….John Rich!  That’s right folks John had himself a big and rich time all the way to the end when he heard The Donald say, “You’re hired.”  He’s not only an extremely talented singer but also an award-winning songwriter who has written some favorites like “Redneck Woman” and “Here for the Party”.  I actually had the opportunity to see Big & Rich in concert many moons ago, and let me tell you, they put on one heck of show.  Plus, I can never get the words of “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” out of my head once I’ve heard had it blaring from my car radio.  I’m thankful that this cowboy showed the world that Southern hospitality extends beyond sweet tea and apple pie.

John was playing for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which all you avid blog readers out there will remember that I’ve already written about in Week 8.  Honestly though, I would write about this great charity a million times over because how can you not love St. Jude?  I mean they are so loved that they are the main charity for country music, which is why John chose to play for them on CA.  I think he hits the nail on head when he said during his Q&A session that, “…I believe that the most important thing in this world is the kids. If you have the chance to help them, you always should.”  He raised over $1.2 million over this season to help the hospital that never turns away any child because they can’t afford the treatment they need.  Country Cares For St. Jude Kids gives country starts an outlet on the radio that has resulted in over $385 million over the past thirty years.  I would be a fool to try to compare any other charity to St. Jude, so I’m not going to, but I am going to tell you about Whatever It Takes.

Big smiles for Rich

WIT has gathered 660 world leaders that range in occupation from writers to Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to create original artwork that feature “Symbols of hope for the 21 century.”  All of the money raised from the auction of the artwork goes to many different causes that address issues we are facing in the 21st century like poverty, environmental conservation, and protecting children.  St. Jude is among the list of charities that are a party of this unique and fascinating project.  If you’re looking to redecorate your house or buy a one-of-a-kind present for the graduate in your life please check out their shop before heading down to Target or TJ Maxx.  You’ll be one thanking me this time.

Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Donation

Whatever It Takes Donation

So here’s to you John Rich!  You are known for your signature hat and handlebar mustache, but now you’ll forever be the Season 4 Celebrity Apprentice winner!  You played with integrity, heart, and passion for one of the greatest charities there is.  Trust me, your loyalty and hard work have not gone unnoticed.  You may have done it for the kids, but you’ve touched the lives and hearts of a lot of grownups too. 

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 5-Marlee Matlin

First of all, can we just talk about how this is week 25.  Really?  That means that next week marks the official half-way point in this labor of love.  I wouldn’t be here without the push from you guys out there reading, so thank you.  Ok, now on to this season’s finalist Marlee Matin.  She has been acting since the tender age of 7 as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at a children’s theater company in Chicago.  Totally a girl after my own heart.  She has been in The West Wing, The L Word, and of course Dancing With the Stars.  Oh did I also mention that she is a mother of four?  If you’re wondering if she doubles as Super Woman when the sun goes down, then we’re definitely on the same page.  I’m so thankful for strong women of integrity in the entertainment business who are amazing role models for girls.

Marlee has already raised over $1 million dollars for her charity of choice, Starkey Hearing Foundation.  Founded almost 27 years ago, SHF is supported by the likes of Bill Rancic, Miley Cyrus, and Patricia Arquette in their mission to change the social consciousness of hearing through education and research while providing the gift of hearing to those in need around the world.  They have given almost 500,000 hearing devices to those who couldn’t afford them by themselves all across the globe.  Even though that is a great accomplishment SHF is not resting on their good merit and taking a break.  There are still 63 million hearing impaired children around the globe who still need the gift of hearing.  SHF is also in the business of educating young people about how they can protect their hearing from a young age.  The House Ear Institute is also using education to improve the quality of life of those suffering from hearing loss.  HEI has been pushing the research envelope since 1964 to explore the auditory system all the way from the ear canal to cortex of the brain.  A real life Dr. House was the founder of HEI over 60 years ago and has watched it grow from a one-person office to a five-story building with over 180 staff members.  They are working to improve hearing aids, auditory implants, and clinical treatments for this generation and the next.  They have turned up the volume on what we should expect from research.

Starkey Hearing Foundation Donation

House Ear Institute Donation

So here’s to you Marlee Matin!  You are beautiful, talented, and my new role model.  I’m not even going to try to form some witty sentences or play on words to express how thankful I am for this woman.  She is already a winner, but hearing Donald Trump tell her she is hired would be the perfect cherry on top of the sundae.

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 4-La Toya Jackson

You may have heard about this family called the Jacksons.  They’re a pretty big deal.  La Toya has been at the front of the entertainment-driven family since she was a wee tot.  CA gave her the perfect opportunity to keep carrying on the charity work started by her late brother Michael.  She may be lumped in with her very famous family but La Toya has made a name for herself by having her own solo music career and a very infamous Playboy magazine appearance.  She may be the fifth of ten children but she was never one to hide in the crowd.  Usually I’m not a fan of people using their names to get where they want to be in life, but because La Toya wants to be in place that helps people, I’ll let her slide.

The charity that La Toya is playing for on CA is the AIDS Project Los Angeles.  This charity was close to her heart because Michael was such a big supporter before he passed away a couple of years ago, and she can honor his memory while she helps those in need.  La Toya has helped APLA by visiting with patients who have AIDS, bringing them food, and assisting them in any way she could.  APLA is dedicated to improving the lives of those with HIV/AIDS and reducing the incidence of this terrible auto-immune disease.  Founded back in 1982 APLA uses education to empower LA and realize there is nothing more important than protecting yourself.  Another great charity that is fighting back against the AIDS epidemic is Keep A Child Alive.  I actually found out about KACA because they started following me on Twitter!  I knew that week of blogging about social networks would pay off.  There are so many great things about KACA but I absolutely love their Daily Inspirations page.  It gives the public a place to see why they do what they do day-in and day-out.  KACA knows there is a profound difference between life and living.  They work in South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and India to save lives of innocent people by giving them anti-retroviral medication and endless care and support.  The best part is, you don’t have to go to any of those places to save a life.  You can just buy it.  Seriously, when you donate to KACA you are buying a life.  “Because the more  you buy, the more you save.”  Simple, inspiring, and powerful.  Amazing.

AIDS Project Los Angeles Donation

Keep A Child Alive Donation

So here’s to you La Toya Jackson!  You may or may not have had too many surgeries, but we all know that beauty is not only skin deep.  Your heart and your pocketbook are both made of gold, and you love to give of them both freely.  You and your brothers taught us ABC was as simple as 123, and tonight I’ve discovered that it is so simple for you because charity is number 1.

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 3-Donald Trump

The Donald

Let’s face it, there would be no Celebrity Apprentice without The Donald.  He falls into the category with Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Steve Case who all have more money than they could ever spend in a lifetime.  What I like about all these gentlemen is that they have taken their fortune and turned it into a future for others.  They could have bought a gazillion Ferraris or hid money all around their houses but instead they decided other there were other people around the world that needed it more than them.  Sure Mr. Trump is controversial in more ways than I really feel like typing but no one could ever say he isn’t a charitable man.  Thank goodness for small favors.

There are multiple charities that Donald and his little money-making heirs support but one of my favorites is Girl Up campaign of the United Nations Foundation.  GU is for girls and by girls to help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach-adolescent girls.  GU gives American girls a place to channel their energy and passion and raise awareness and funds for girls their age.  Women is the United States have been empowered and enlightened for year thanks to our bra-burning grandmothers, but girls in developing countries still struggle to go to school, be seen by a doctor, or be a voice in their communities.  You can give a Malawi girl a “high-five” by donating $5, which is enough money to pay for school fees and supplies needed in order for her to finish secondary school.  I may no  longer be an adolescent girl but I remember when I was one, and I would never want another girl’s dreams to be squashed because of where she lives.  Even kids in here in America need a safe haven after school and from the dangers of the world around them.  The Police Athletic Leagueis New York City’s largest independent youth development non-profit that operates a huge list of programs for kids ranging in all from 3 to 19.  Seriously they have almost 20 programs that focus on sports, learning, and giving these urban kids an overall better quality of life.  PAL began way back in 1914 when the NYPD would shut down the streets so unsupervised children could play and be safe, and has evolved into a nation-wide model of how to bring communities and the police together.  I always thought those kids running through the open fire hydrants in the middle of a heat wave in NYC was just fodder for the movies, but I guess not.  Now I’m really jealous.

Is there room for one more big kid?

Girl Up Donation 

Police Athletic League Donation

So here’s to you Donald Trump!  You have an incredibly successful reality TV show, just a couple of towers named after you, a smoking hot wife, and you are pretty much the definition of the American success story.  Your hair, or whatever that is on top of your head, may be your trademark but don’t think your philanthropy is going unnoticed.  Mr. Trump, you’re hired!

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 2-Gary Busey

I. Love. Gary. Busey.  And I’m not gonna apologize for it.  I love his crazy made-up words, and his crazy googly eyes.  I love his zeal for life and the heaping dose of insane that he brings to whatever show he’s on.  Plus I got to see him in person in New York while they were filming last fall.  Don’t worry, he is just as crazy in person as he is on your flat screen TV.  Plus everybody knows that one man’s crazy is another executive producer’s gold mine.  A severe motorcycle accident that Gary was involved in over 20 years ago might explain why his behavior is a little, uh, erratic on occasion.  He’s thankful to be alive, and I’m thankful he’s found his way back into the limelight.

The charity that Gary was playing for in the boardroom was The Center for Head Injury Services.  Clearly life after a head injury is never the same.  CHIS help those who have sustained injuries by providing in home services as well as group activities and rehabilitation services.  The services they provide are worth their weight in gold, but the relationships that are built through the CHIS community are really priceless.  Gary was lucky enough to be able to return to a career he loved, but there are thousands of people who suffer head trauma ever year who aren’t so lucky.  Gary even managed to win $40,000 before he was fired by The Donald.  Gary is also an avid supporter of disabled veterans.  Disabled American Veterans Charitable Services Trust was formed back in 1986, and has consistently worked hard to honor the brave men and women who fought for our country.  This great charity also supports physical and psychological rehabilitation programs of veterans with specific needs and disabilities.  DAVCST also takes in veterans who are homeless and helps them get back on their feet.  It is so true that our freedom isn’t really free, and I could never express enough how lucky I feel to have thousands of people, I have never met, sacrifice their lives for me.  Thank you veterans.

The Center For Head Injury Services Donation

Disabled American Veterans Charitable Services Trust Donation (that is a mouth full!)

So here’s to you Gary Busey!  Your crazy eyes and your non-stop mouth have landed you a special place in my heart.  You are entertaining, philosophical, and even lovable.  You show us what it’s like to totally be yourself and truly disregard what everyone else thinks about you.  You may elicit a big ‘ole belly laugh from me more often than not, but I am truly thankful that your antics have made people stop and listen to what you have to say.  Carry on Gary, carry on.

Real life Gary Busey!

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 1-David Cassidy

This week the finale for the still very popular Celebrity Apprentice airs on NBC.  I haven’t recently watched the CA but all the stink Donald Trump has raised lately about Obama’s birth certificate and his almost attempt at running for the presidency have put this show back on my radar.  Plus have you seen the people they have on this season?  Some of my favorites are crazy-as-ever Gary Busey, steroid-pumping Jose Conseco, and Real Housewives of Atlanta diva-extraordinaire NeNe Leaks.  I actually got to see a couple of them in person when I was strolling about NYC one fine October day.  They pulled out all the stops this season.  Even though the contestants they chose may be off their rocker, they are still giving back to some great causes.  I’m thankful that buried underneath the midst of this reality show chaos are great causes for people who really need to be hired.

I may not be old enough to say that I watched The Partridges but I certainly know who Mr. David Cassidy is, mainly due to my mother who was a big fan.  She probably still is, who knows.  Unfortunately he was not quite as popular on CA.  Who am I kidding, he was the very first person be to fired, he sucked.  What didn’t suck was the cause he was cause he was playing for, Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation.  This is a matter closer to Cassidy’s heart because he took care of his father who suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s and now his mother who is suffering from severe dementia.  ARPF has been working since 1993 to reduce the occurrence of this devastating disease that robs families of their loved ones even before they have passed away.  They also conduct research on how they can slow down the progression of the disease and the best holistic approach in treating Alzheimer’s and dementia.  They are also in the business of educating patients, families, healthcare professionals, and the entire public on in the ins and outs of Alzheimer’s.  The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is also addressing this serious disease by “caring for the nation…one person at a time.”  AFA is hoping that they can help remove the stigma of Alzheimer’s by educating the public and encouraging them to utilize the community resources that surround them.  In the case of Alzheimer’s the caregivers often need as much support as the patients.  I watched my Dad and my brother take care of my grandfather who suffered from dementia, and gained a better understanding of what unconditional loves means.  Even though he may not have been able to express it towards the end, I know my PaPa was thankful for the home they gave him.

Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Fund Donation

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Donation

So here’s to you David Cassidy!  Sure you were the first loser on CA, but your cause is more than admirable.  You were pretty cute back in the day when you were better known as Keith Partridge.  It is true that you’ve had your ups and downs since your teen heartthrob days, but you seem to be back on the right track now.  You are still pretty handsome, generous, and your name is safely written in the history books for acting.  I Think I Love You.