I have a personal connection with each of the organizations listed below. If you are looking for a deserving place to share, consider one of these.
The James F. Byrnes Foundation provides financial aid for college students who have lost one or both of their parents. My mother and her siblings were raised by a single mother after their father died when they were young. After high school, my mother and her twin sister were Byrnes Scholar recipients and got to know the Byrnes family personally. The uniqueness of the Byrnes organization is that it’s more than just giving money to pay the bills, there are beach retreats and gatherings where former scholars form relationships with those new scholars. It’s a family. I have personally seen the dedication and involvement my parents have had over the years for these deserving students. Learn more and donate here.
When I became involved with American Ninja Warrior I was approached by Project Fit America and agreed to be their North and South Carolina Ambassador, visiting elementary schools and helping to promote fitness to kids. I don’t endorse things on a whim, and this was an easy decision to get on board and support such a worthy cause. They have recently installed their fitness equipment and program at their 1,000th school in the United States, a great accomplishment toward the cause of creating a healthy, active culture among our children. There may be no better investment in the future of our society than fitness and good health. Learn more and donate here.
I was honored recently to spend some time with Mapitso Molebatsi Rivera and Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe (the niece and the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu) and learn about their project to provide desks for children of developing countries. These lap desks are $20 each and they have a goal of providing 20 million Tutu Desks to 20 million students by 2025. We are just so spoiled over here in our country while students in many places don’t have a desk at school or home to write or learn with, yet they all seem so grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to learn. To learn more or donate a desk, visit http://tutudesk.org/
Peace and EDUCATION!
In March 2015, I took my first trip to Haiti. For a week, I lived in the complex in Cange, Haiti, and visited schools and villages in the area. The focus of my trip was the small library there which is growing, and is in need of help to do that. When I was there, I saw students reading their school books and studying under outdoor lamps in the complex late into the evening. They love to learn, they want to learn, and an education is the best thing we give them. We are trying to raise money to build a larger library to serve the surrounding villages. Learn more and donate here.
Patio Projects, Guanajay, Cuba
My good friends, Javier Perez and Santiago Delgado run the Patio Projects, out of their church and home in Guanajay, Cuba. In 2009, a crazy group of us piled into a van and rode all over Cuba to see the growth of their project. The Patio Projects help communities and individuals turn wasted spaces into gardens and growing spaces, providing food, medicine, and turning lives around in the process. This spurred my own interest in gardening. I think anything we can do to reconnect people to a more direct involvement in where their food comes from, the better. Contact me for more information on how you can support this project.
In 2010 I joined my good friend and colleague, Glen Adkins, on a trip through the country of Hungary on a choir tour with his choir, made up of Roma students from the Gandhi School in Pecs, Hungary. This was my second trip to work with the students there. We were invited into their homes, fed wonderful meals, and treated to incredible music and a tour of the Hungarian country. From that trip, I put together a video documentary about the Roma people and the issues they face, which can be seen below. Contact me for more information about how you can best support the Roma.
Man vs Machine
We held our 3rd annual Man vs Machine wood-splitting contest for charity, where I battled against a 20-ton hydraulic log splitter to see who could split the most wood the fastest, and I WON for the 2nd year in a row! Stay tuned, follow this blog and I’ll announce the date for next year’s battle as soon as I know it! The money we raise goes to help those who need assistance paying their heating bills, and also to better weatherproofing for low-income homes, saving money in the long-term. Donations go through http://sustainingway.org.