SmashFest: Over $140,000 Raised for Charities

Steam Whistle Brewing, host of this year's Smashfest

Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto hosted this year’s Smashfest.
Image: ValeStock / Shutterstock.com

The annual charity ping-pong challenge in Toronto, Smashfest, raised over $140,000 on Thursday last week. The event, which was hosted by the New York Rangers forward Dominic Moore, will contribute its funds to charities that assist in the research of concussions and rare cancers.

This year was the third installment of the tournament, which brought over 23 current or former NHL players to the Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto.

“We had an amazing time at Smashfest again this year,” Moore said. “The support we received was impressive on all fronts, from the players and guests in attendance, to the NHLPA and all of our partners. I’m proud that $140,000 was raised to further help with research into concussions and rare cancers.”

The event has grown drastically since the inaugural event in 2012, which raised $20,000 for concussion research. Last summer an additional charity was added to raise over $100,000 for the Katie Moore Foundation, which honors the forward’s late wife.

The NHL players in attendance at this year’s third annual Smashfest event included Dominic Moore (Host), Derick Brassard, Alex Burrows, Mike Cammalleri, David Clarkson, Logan Couture, Michael Del Zotto, T.J. Galiardi, Doug Gilmour, Mike Johnson, Kevin Klein, Nick Kypreos, Shawn Matthias, Jamie McLennan, Jeff O’Neill, Teddy Purcell, Zac Rinaldo, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner, Cam Talbot, Chris Tanev, Stephane Veilleux, and Kevin Weekes.

The event allowed guests the opportunity to play ping-pong against the NHL players. There was also the opportunity to bid on several unique items through the silent auction. More than 650 people were in attendance at the sold-out event.

USC Coach Dawn Staley’s Fun-Raiser Brings out Celebrities

Dawn Staley

Dawn Staley IMG: via Shutterstock.

USC coach Dawn Staley hosted a charity softball game recently in an effort to raise $75,000 in South Carolina. The donations will go to support Innersole, a charity that donates new sneakers to needy children. The foundation will branch into an elementary school in the fall and promote a competition measuring attendance, behavior, physical fitness and grades with new sneakers as the prize.

Ray Tanner coached one of the teams, cutting it close with a 13-12 win in the Fun-Raiser celebrity softball game. Staley’s team was ahead 11-5 in the seventh and final inning, but Tanner’s team rallied in the final minutes to pull ahead.

“It was a tremendous turnout,” Staley said. “The way that the people of South Carolina have supported everything I’ve done in our women’s basketball program, and now Innersole, it goes to show how caring they are about what we do.”

One of Staley’s team players was Forrest Alton, CEO of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Alton got three homers off pitcher Brian Buscher, but those homers were all answered with three for Buscher later on.

“I played like a sieve at third, so I guess it kind of evens out,” Alton said. “It was fun to be out here and nice of coach Staley to ask. Innersole works on issues that are overlapping with (our initiative), for sure.”

Former professional athletes who participated in Saturday’s game included Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, St. Louis Rams tight end Justice Cunningham, Andre Goodman and Scott Wingo.

Potato Salad Kickstarter goes Viral

heart shaped potato

The Internet has declared its love for potato salad.
Image: Nisha A / Flickr

Apparently, the Internet loves potatoes. Well, potato salad to be exact.

A viral potato salad Kickstarter campaign has raised  $71,758 and still has 23 days left to go. The user who created the campaign, Zach “Danger” Brown told Good Morning America on Tuesday, “It’s unbelievable,” of receiving pledges from more than 20 countries for his campaign, launched solely with the description “Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.”

“I want to do the most good that I can do with this,” he explained. “Kickstarter has terms of service that prohibit giving money directly to charities, but I’ve asked people on Twitter, and I want to ask people here today, just how we can take this moment, this campaign and this money and do the most good with it.”

In a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything,” where Reddit users can submit questions), Brown speculated as to what was causing users to go so crazy over a potato salad Kickstarter.

“I never thought it would go this far. $10 seemed like a good, conservative goal,” he wrote. “I think the thing people are responding to is the opportunity to come together around something equal parts absurd and mundane. Potato salad isn’t controversial, but it seems to unite us all.”

Perhaps the most ironic part is that Brown has never even made potato salad before. He has reportedly invited “the entire internet” to his hometown for a giant party, where it is presumable that lots of potato salad will be present.

As funny as the situation is, there are also many people who are upset over the campaign’s stunning success. So many Kickstarter campaigns come and go, many with noble causes in mind—such as using yoga to heal anorexia—that find it extremely difficult, and often impossible, to raise the funds needed. But potato salad? No problem. So, while it is a fun thing—it is a bit disturbing to see that people will come together for potato salad, but often won’t for the greater good.

NYC Charity Luncheon Fiasco Dubbed “Success” by Millionaire in Charge

NYC Central Park

NYC’s Central Park. IMG: via Shutterstock.

On Wednesday, June 25th, 200 homeless New Yorkers showed up at Central Park with empty stomachs and high hopes: Chinese millionaire Chen Guangbiao had promised a gourmet lunch and $300 in cash to anyone that attended his “Tour of Love and Gratitude.”

Instead, they left echoing sentiments like Tom Cargill’s:

“I feel so disappointed right now I’m going to throw up.”

Cargill was one of the hundreds of homeless that showed up to Chen’s event, which had been advertised in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. But instead of following through on the promises made, there was a change in plan: Chen hosted the luncheon but instead of handing out the cash, he signed a contract agreeing to donate $90,000 to the New York City Rescue Mission.

After hearing of Chen’s plan to pass out such large amounts of cash, the rescue mission advised strongly against it. Spokeswoman Michelle Tolson explained why, saying, “We work with the homeless every day, many of them unfortunately have drink and drugs problems, and it just isn’t a good idea to give that sort of cash out to people.”

But unfortunately for Chen and the homeless individuals that showed up at Central Park, that message seems to have gotten lost in translation, leaving many of the struggling New Yorkers angry and resentful.

Vietnam War veteran Harry Brooks voiced his frustration to the Telegraph: “We have been duped to come along here under false pretenses, and now we are just part of a propaganda trick for the rich,” he said. “We don’t need their steak. We need the money so that we can pay for food and clear debts. Now we’re never going to see it. This is a disgrace.”

Others agreed, commenting that this was a perfect example of how the rich treat the poor.

It certainly didn’t help that on the day of the event, Chen made a speech that again promised to pay up. After that, he began passing out $300 to select attendees as a show of good faith; however, the New York Times reports that those homeless individuals that were given the money would have to give it back later—making the gesture purely symbolic, and incredibly upsetting to many.

After many of the luncheon guests became upset upon realizing that they wouldn’t be receiving the promised $300, many of them began shouting things like “We’re human beings!” and “Stop lying!” Under pressure, Chen promised to hand out money later in the day at the mission—but mission officials say that would be a violation of the previously signed contract.

The event can only be dubbed as a fiasco, but Chen surprisingly reported that he felt it had been a huge success, indicating that any upset was simply caused by East to West culture differences.

Whether that sentiment is true or not, Chen’s “Tour of Love and Gratitude” couldn’t have missed the mark more for most attendees. Instead of leaving guests hopeful and feeling loved, it likely left many feeling poorer than when they had arrived—bellies full of food but hearts deflated of false hope.

Of course, the mission’s stance is certainly understandable; many homeless individuals would likely squander the cash on things like drugs and alcohol rather than paying off debt or buying essentials. Of course, many others might also have used that cash to truly better their life situation. What it really comes down to is incredibly poor judgment and planning on Chen’s part—a mistake that many well-off individuals make when they found nonprofits or host charity events, getting so caught up in the “grand gesture” that they don’t think about the larger picture.

Pippa Middleton Biking U.S. For Charity

Pippa Middleton in London

Pippa Middleton is riding across America on her bike.
Image: Simon James / Shutterstock.com

Pippa Middleton, sister-in-law of Prince William, and her brother James have embarked on a 3,000-mile bike ride across the US to raise money for charity. Pippa Middleton and her team will start the journey at Oceanside, California, and ride to Annapolis, Maryland, in the event called Race Across America.

“On 14th June, my brother and I, along with six friends will be setting off on a West to East Coast Race Across America (RAAM),” she said in a statement posted on her fundraising page on Saturday. “This relay cycling event spans 3,000 miles, 12 states and 88 counties. We are aiming to complete this non-stop challenge in eight days, riding between 350 and 500 miles a day.”

Middleton, 30, is well versed in cycling, often riding out on the bumpy country roads near her parents’ house in Bucklebury. The two youngest Middleton siblings are on one of the several dozen solo and team riders in the 33rd annual charity event. The Middleton team is raising funds for the British Heart Foundation, which Pippa is an ambassador for.

In a statement on the foundation’s website, she says she “was shocked to learn that nearly three times more women die from coronary heart disease than breast cancer. I’m passionate about raising awareness amongst women of this killer disease and I look forward to working with the BHF to highlight to women the risks of heart disease and, importantly, how they can reduce them.”

Middleton also announced on her fundraising page that her and her brother James will be heading to Istanbul afterwards to participate in the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Race.

Soccer Charity Match: Mourinho takes out Olly Murs

Soccer Aid logo

The £4.2 million raised by Soccer Aid will benefit Unicef.

It seems Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho isn’t a big fan of Olly Murs—at least not during a recent charity soccer match. At a Soccer Aid charity game, the 51-year-old coach ran onto the pitch and actually tackled the English star as his side threatened to launch a counter-attack in the game. Mourinho’s Rest of the World team beat England 4-2, with Westlife’s Nicky Byrne on the score sheet in a game that featured a mixture of celebrities and ex-footballers.

The event raised around £4.2m for the charity Soccer Aid. Welsh actor Michael Sheen led the Rest of the World football team. Sheen, 45, who as a talented 12-year-old turned down a place on Arsenal’s youth team while playing for Port Talbot side Baglan Boys’ Club, captained the winning side and said the match was every bit as important as the World Cup in Brazil, which starts this week, because of the cash it raised. Other stars on the team included celebrities such as Gordon Ramsey and actor James McAvoy.

The proceeds from the fundraiser go to the children’s organization Unicef to send food, medicine and clean water to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children. The event packed in a crowd of more than 65,000 at Old Trafford for the match.

Olly Murs said, “It was a great night. Jose [Mourinho] took me out on the line, I couldn’t believe that. But I was actually devastated to come off. It was just fantastic, 65,000 people. Amazing.”

After the Mourinho tackled Murs, he scampered back to his dugout with a mischievous grin. As both teams prepared for the match the day before, Murs had tweeted a picture of his first meeting with Mourinho.

Suspected Fraud Charity Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund Pays Up

hurricane sandy relief food and supplies 2012

The Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund was suspected of fraud and has finally paid out $300,000 of its funds.
Anton Oparin / Shutterstock.com

There were many charities created to help with the Superstorm Sandy hurricane that hit the east coast in late 2012. One such charity suspected of fraud, the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, has finally finished distributing $325,000 under a settlement with a New Jersey prosecutor. The funds have been re-distributed to several legitimate aid groups in the recovery effort.

The final $100,000 was given to two New Jersey charities – $75,000 to Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County, and $25,000 to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

“We are bringing closure to the many well-intentioned and generous donors who gave to this allegedly fraudulent charity, and bringing genuine relief to low-income families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Sandy,” Acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in a prepared statement.

New Jersey’s acting attorney general says the money will bring relief to low-income families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Sandy. Officials in New Jersey sued the foundation and its operators in February 2013, claiming they used donations for personal expenses and failed to properly register as a charity.

In April, $225,000 was distributed to four groups in New Jersey and New York, including Toms River-based O.C.E.A.N., Inc., the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune, Alliance Center for Independence in Edison and Graybeards, Ltd., a group based in Rockaway, N.Y.

The Attorney’s General office and the Divisions of Consumer Affairs alleged the foundation’s founders, John Sandberg and Christina Terraccino, diverted donations into their personal accounts and falsely claimed the foundation was registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, fooling donors into believing their donations would be tax deductible.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Shave for Charity

Tampa Bay Buccaneers logo on maroon background

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed their charitable side this week.

Earlier this week, around 40 Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and staff members shaved their heads for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s fifth annual Cut for a Cure Charity Challenge to raise money to fight pediatric cancer and blood disorders.

“You look at us as players and they think we’re the tough guys and they think that those big strong guys, man those are the tough guys of the world—we’re really not.  These kids have triple the strength that any of us have. You see a guy lift a lot of weights and you think of strength. These kids, to be able to battle cancer, and persevere…that’s true strength,” said Gerald McCoy.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning have done similar events in the past year. Around $270,000 had been raised through the challenge as of Tuesday, June 10th. Donators included quarterback Mike Glennon, defensive end Michael Johnson and kicker Connor Barth. The donations go towards efforts to provide medical research, programming and pediatric care for children and their families fighting pediatric cancer and blood disorders.

“Being around kids who have had a setback in life, who have had to struggle with an unfortunate disease, it touches my heart very deeply,” Mike James said. “Anything I can do to help push them forward, to show them that it’s everybody that cares – men, women, adult, children – I want to show them that as much as I can. I have a son and it hits home with me. My son is healthy, thank God, but if he wasn’t I would want somebody to show him that we’re all here to support him.”

Niall Horan Charity Football Challenge Raises over £300,000

Teen Vogue photoshoot of One Direction

One Direction showed their charitable side at the football match, helping to raise £300,000.
Image: Teen Vogue

One Direction star Harry Styles joked with Piers Morgan during a charity football match organized by One Direction band mate Niall Horan. Piers, who was on the opposite team, was standing at the touchline when his bandmate snuck up behind him and tugged on his shorts before running off.

Styles added to the insult by scoring the only goal for his band mate Niall Horan’s team, leaving the score a 1-1 tie and sending the match to penalties. Luckily for Piers, the game went into a final shootout–which his team eventually won. The Niall Horan Charity Football Challenge was held at the King Power Stadium, which is home to the Leicester City Football Club. The event was organized by Niall Horan and brought together a mishmash of Irish and British celebrities to raise money for charity. Thousands of fans turned out for the game, which was raising money for Irish Autism Action and Hearts and Minds Challenge.

Piers Morgan led a team including Boyzone singer Keith Duffy and football players Robbie Savage and Jason McAteer while Horan’s team included Styles, singer Ronan Keating, comedian Kack Whitehall and actor James Corden. Over £300,000 was raised at the inaugural match. Over 15,500 tickets were sold for the event.

“Although my team didn’t win, I still enjoyed every minute of this game”, said Niall Horan. I would like to thank all the players who donated their time free of charge to support this event.  I am looking forward to making this even bigger and better next year. I am delighted we have raised significant funds for Irish Autism Action which is based in my home town of Mullingar, UK based Heart and Minds Challenge and the Leicester Foxes Foundation.”

Civil Rights Activist Maya Angelou Dies

Maya Angelou - People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Dr. Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist, poet, memoirist, dancer, and so much more.
Image: JStone / Shutterstock.com

Award-winning author, renowned poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou was found dead in her North Carolina home Wednesday morning this week. Dr. Angelou was 86 when found at home in Winston-Salem.

“I’m not modest,” Maya Angelou told The Associated Press in 2013. “I have no modesty. Modesty is a learned behavior. But I do pray for humility, because humility comes from the inside out.”

Dr. Maya Angelou December 2013

Dr. Maya Angelou in December 2013. She was 86 when she passed.
Image: JStone / Shutterstock.com

Her story has been the awe of millions for years. The young single mother was raised in poverty as a child in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. She later worked at strip clubs, as a prostitute and brothel manager, and danced and sang on stages around the world to make a living. She wrote and recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history as she read her cautiously hopeful “On the Pulse of the Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. A childhood victim of rape, shamed into silence, Dr. Angelou eventually told her story through one of the most widely read memoirs of the past few decades.

Angelou became a cultural icon after her famously acclaimed first autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which also made her one of the first African-American women to write a best-seller. The 86-year-old had been a professor of American studies at Wake Forest University since 1982. “She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace,” her son, Guy B. Johnson said.

“Like so many others, Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya,” President Obama said in a statement. “With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer. And while Maya’s day may be done, we take comfort in knowing that her song will continue, ‘flung up to heaven’ — and we celebrate the dawn that Maya Angelou helped bring.”

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