Friday, September 26, 2008

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak at a cool event in NYC called the Community Leadership Awards. This award ceremony was hosted by the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation, a non-profit that harnesses the volunteer efforts of members of the financial industry.

What amazed me about this group of financial planners is that each had their own initiative that personally reflects their passion, and each project was the result of seeing a problem that they wanted to help. The diversity and sustainability of these projects is really inspiring. To me, this is what life is all about… taking what you love to do and applying your skills and passion to helping others.

I would like to highlight a few of really great people that were honored at this event:

Elizabeth Vertarano helped to create a crisis hotline and emergency shelter in Lawrence County, PA for victims of domestic abuse. Since 1981, the shelter has provided women with housing, emotional counseling, and legal and medical advice.

Richard England, Jr has volunteered for the past 15 years with the Latin American Youth Center, a Washington DC organization that services over 4000 low-income families. With the help of friends and colleagues, Richard created a $5 million fund to ensure the organization’s financial stability.

Marc Turner uses his passion for basketball to help inner city kids get off the street. For the past 16 years, Marc has served as a part-time coach at the Church Farm School in Paoli, PA. In 2005, Marc mobilized 50 kids to support relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Frank Martin has volunteered for the past ten years mentoring underprivileged kids. In 2001, Frank created DreamsWork Inc, an organization that offers one-on-one tutoring and college scholarships to promising students.

I also had a fantastic conversation with Rance Crain, the President of Crain Publications, about my vision for TOMS, and I think he became a believer. We joked about the fact that I was featured in Advertising Age’s top 30 under 30 several years back when I was running Reality Central Cable Network. Rance also invited me to speak at his IDEA Conference later this month which I am really excited about.

Bill Bisson, the group publisher and editorial director of Investment News was very supportive as well, and several people told me later in the night that Bill was talking about coming to work for TOMS. While he was obviously kidding, hopefully he will join us on a shoe drop sometime soon.

At the end of this event, participants were given an opportunity to help sponsor a volunteer on a future Shoe Drop. I would like to thank everyone that contributed… we are EXTREMELY excited to find out how much money was raised! Fingers crossed ☺

Last but not least, I would like to thank everyone at Invest in Others that that helped make this event possible. Thank you Kandis for your very kind words! Allison and Stephanie: You guys planned an INCREDIBLE evening. I would be honored to take part in future events!

Rance Crain (President and Editorial Director, Crain
Communications Inc), Me, Jim Pavia (Editor, InvestmentNews), Suzanne
Siracuse (Publisher, InvestmentNews), Kandis Bates, (President, Invest
in Others Charitable Foundation)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Making a Difference At Every Age

When I spoke at the Community Leadership Awards last week in NYC, I met a gentleman named Krisha Pendyala. Krisha told me about the AMAZING project his kids, Nyan and Lehka, have been working on.

I have been telling everyone I know about this project and I hope that you guys do to…

Nyan and Lehka, ages 9 and 7, are determined to fight the terrible problem of blindness in India. There are 320,000 blind children in India – more than any other country in the world. Nyan and Lehka’s goal is raise money to support the training of eye doctors. They hope to create 5 pediatric eye care centers to screen 5 million children and provide care to 725,000. To learn more, check out this You Tube video:

Nyan & Lekha have been working for over a year to raise money for their project “Kids for Sight”. So far, they have raised over $20,000… $1200 of which they have personally donated by sacrificing birthday presents. Talk about young people making a difference!

Kids for Sight’ has made it to the Top 25 out of 1,190 projects in a contest sponsored by American Express. Our goal is to help Nyan & Lekha make it into the finals. In early October, there will be another voting to determine how much each of the finalists wins ($100k to $1.5 million).

I just voted for Nyan & Lekha. It is really easy:

Step 1: Vote

To vote, go to the link below:

In order to vote, you must be an AMEX cardholder. If you are not, you can sign up very easily on this site.

Step 2: Tell your friends!

Encourage 4 of your friends to vote for Nyan & Lekha. Promote them on your Myspace, Facebook… use everything you got!

Step 3: Vote again in October when Nyan & Lekha make the finals.

Time is running out to vote… please do so ASAP.

Good luck Nyan & Lekha!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Charity Water

Recently I visited some of the Charity Water sites in Ethiopia and was blown away by the crisis. Tomorrow my very good friend Scott Harrison is drilling a new well inNorthern Ethiopia and you can watch it live on his website. If you don't already know what Charity Water is about, please check out their September campaign.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

TOMS Wrap Boot

Check out to purchase the Wrap Boot and watch the No Polo Widow film!