The Open Hearts Foundation supports organizations that are committed to positively impacting lives in the areas of health, education, arts and sports.
Those who give selflessly in the face of life’s challenges represent the Open Hearts Philosophy. Their stories are the motivating force that carries our mission to communities worldwide.
May 10th 2014
Our 4th Annual Open Hearts Foundation Gala will be an evening filled with inspirational stories, exciting live entertainment and moving testimonials from honorees who embody the Open Heart Philosophy. Funds raised from the Gala benefit the Open Hearts Foundation, which supports the honorees’ chosen charities. Our 2014 Honorees are
DERRICK HALL – The Derrick Hall Pro-State Foundation
The Derrick Hall Pro-State Foundation will provide comprehensive information and support for families dealing with screening, diagnosis, treatment and recovery from Prostate Cancer. Derrick was diagnosed at only 42 years old.
Derrick has an incredible wife and three young children and he was very public and very open about his diagnosis and treatment in an effort to create a conversation about this horrible disease. He has been a very passionate advocate – highlighting the importance of screening despite flawed medical guidelines, which do not recommend screening until much older (50+). He has been instrumental in encouraging the Arizona community to “get checked”! As a result, many have benefitted from the same early diagnosis.
He has taken a very positive and proactive approach to his recovery by completely changing his eating habits (he is a strict vegan) and adopting an exercise regimen to promote a complete and healthy recovery. He is truly an inspiration – he will take a phone call from anyone who has received a similar diagnosis, offering whatever support he can during the coping, treatment and recovery process.
LAUREN PARSEKIAN-PAUL & MOLLY THOMPSON – KIND Campaign
In February 2009, while attending Pepperdine University, two young girls recognized a problem and decided to do something about it. Lauren Parsekian-Paul and Molly Thompson, both affected by female bullying, decided to create a documentary and non-profit that would ultimately change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across America. The girls have gone on three national tours, hosting their school assembly program and sharing their documentary film in hundreds of schools and communities across the country.
Kind Campaign is an internationally recognized movement, documentary and school program based upon the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime”.
Every single female has encountered an experience in which they become aggressors or victims of girl-against-girl “crime”. Physical fighting, name-calling, threats, power struggles, competition, manipulation, secrets, rumors, and ostracizing other girls all fall under the category of bullying.
We all want to be liked. It’s already hard enough to accept ourselves for who we are, let alone accept the perceptions and judgments that other girls have of us. Over the years, the vicious ways in which females treat each other have become societal norms, with various media outlets that mock and even glamorize the issue. What we often choose to ignore is the fact that these experiences very often lead to depression, anxiety, loss of self-worth, eating disorders, drug abuse, alcoholism, attempted suicide and actual suicide in millions of girl’s lives. www.kindcampaign.com
US ARMY STAFF SERGEANT (RET.) TRAVIS MILLS – Travis Mills Foundation
On April 10, 2012, United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne was critically injured on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan by an IED (improvised explosive device) while on patrol, losing portions of both legs and both arms. He is one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive his injuries.
Travis continues to overcome life’s challenges, breaking physical barriers and defying odds, and he has become a motivational speaker, actor, and an advocate for veterans and amputees. Thanks to his amazing strength, courage, an incredible will to live, the heroic actions of the men in his unit, the prayers of thousands, and all the healthcare providers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, near Washington D.C., Travis remains on the road to recovery. Every day is a battle, but Travis continues to astound friends and family alike with his progress and with his amazing spirit. He is a genuine American hero, and for his incredible sacrifice, we are forever in his debt.
Travis lives everyday by his motto:
“Never give up. Never quit.”
In September 2013, Travis founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization, formed to benefit and assist wounded and injured veterans. Travis and the foundation are actively involved with several veterans’ organizations including, Veterans Family Camp in Belgrade, Maine.
Travis also founded the Travis Mills Group, LLC where he consults with and speaks to companies and organizations nationwide inspiring all to overcome life’s challenges and adversity. www.travismills.org
Currently seen recurring on the CBS Comedy Two and a Half Men, Kimberly Williams-Paisley first lit up the screen as the radiant young bride in the comedy feature film series Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II. She co-starred in the ABC sitcom According To Jim and by the time the series finished its impressive eight-season run, Williams-Paisley had evolved in her role opposite Jim Belushi and Courtney-Thorne Smith, greatly increasing her involvement in the production, ultimately directing three episodes of the show. Recently she returned to ABC to co-star on the drama Nashville.
In addition to her acting work, Williams-Paisley is an accomplished writer, with published articles for In Style magazine and a year-long column for Redbook entitled “My Life as a New Wife.” She also co-wrote the book Henry and Hidden Vegetable Garden with her father Gurney Williams III, which encouraged healthy eating habits for children.
Early this year, Williams-Paisley publicly shared the challenges she and her family have faced over the last ten years, through a moving story she wrote for Redbook magazine candidly relating her mother’s dementia diagnosis. For those who’ve had someone close to them that suffers from primary progressive aphasia (PPA) – a degenerative brain disease, and a form of dementia with no treatment or cure – they can fully understand how devastating it is for the entire family.
In describing the impact on her relationship with her mother, Williams-Paisley shared that she has, “watched a passionately joyful woman, a devoted mother, an engaged listener and friend deteriorate and transform into someone almost unrecognizable” and how “it’s been agonizing to slowly lose her.”
April 13th 2013
Our 3rd Annual Open Hearts Foundation Gala was an evening filled with inspirational stories, exciting live entertainment and moving testimonials from honorees who embody the Open Heart Philosophy. Funds raised from the Gala benefit the Open Hearts Foundation, which supports the honorees’ chosen charities. Our 2013 Honorees were:
MARIA D’ANGELO – Children’s Lifesaving Foundation
D’Angleo discovered that many local Los Angeles children from low-income families were prevented from going to school or even receiving adequate medical care for serious life threatening conditions. In an effort to do something immediate and life-changing, Maria founded the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation to transform the lives of homeless and at risk children and families through academic, social and domestic support. Since 1993, the nonprofit foundation has been able to support more than 75,000 children, teens and their families through its programs. www.childrenslifesaving.org
STEVE & MICHEL GLEASON – Team Gleason
Steve Gleason played for the New Orleans Saints from 2000-2008. As a counterculture athlete who spent his off-season adventuring in third world countries, he will always be remembered for his blocked punt on the night the Louisiana Superdome reopened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina. In 2011, Steve was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Beyond his faith that there is a solution to heal, it is his mission to show that patients can not only live but thrive. Steve and his wife Michel formed Team Gleason to help inspire others to do the same by providing access to life-affirming events and assistive technology. No goal is more important to Steve and Michel than finding a solution for ALS, so they can share many more years together and as parents to their son, Rivers. www.teamgleason.org
HANNAH STORM – Hannah Storm Foundation
Award-winning sports and newscaster, Hannah Storm, created the Hannah Storm Foundation in 2008 to raise awareness, fund treatment and provide educational information for children suffering from debilitating and disfiguring vascular birthmarks. Hannah’s passion for helping others stems from being born with a port wine stain birthmark under her left eye, causing her to endure painful procedures and a lifelong struggle with self-consciousness. Hannah currently hosts the weekday edition of ESPN’s SportsCenter. www.hannahstormfoundation.org
MARIE TILLMAN – Pat Tillman Foundation
In 2004, in response to the nationwide outpouring of support following her husband Pat Tillman’s death, Marie Tillman established the Pat Tillman Foundation. Actively involved since its inception, Marie led the effort to develop the Tillman Military Scholars program in 2008, aiming to create the next generation of leaders by helping a select group of veterans, active service members and their spouses fulfill their academic dreams. Marie is passionate about not only supporting veterans, but shares her story to encourage young people to get involved in serving their communities. Tillman is also author of “The Letter” – a memoir about love, loss and life. www.pattillmanfoundation.org
BOB & LEE WOODRUFF – Bob Woodruff Foundation
The Bob Woodruff Foundation was co-founded by writer and reporter, Lee Woodruff, and award winning television reporter Bob Woodruff after he sustained serious injuries while covering the Iraq war in 2006. Bob and Lee have helped put a face on the serious issue of traumatic brain injury among returning Iraq war veterans, as well as the millions of Americans who live with this often invisible, but life-changing affliction. Through the Foundation, Bob and Lee are able to help wounded service members and their families receive the long-term care that they need, while supporting them as they reintegrate into their communities. In 2007, the Woodruffs published the best-selling memoir, “In An Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing”, chronicling their family’s story of perseverance through a time of intense trauma and uncertainty. To date, The Bob Woodruff Foundation has raised more than $15 million. www.bobwoodrufffoundation.org
November 29 2012
The Christmas Rose at Carnegie Hall: We celebrated the holiday season with American composer Tim Janis and his ensemble at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Honored that evening were Mr. Leonard A. Lauder and Mrs. Lisa Lori for their Open Heart stories and their charitable efforts.
LEONARD A. LAUDER – Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
Leonard A. Lauder is Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF). The mission of the ADDF is to accelerate the discovery of drugs to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias and cognitive aging. All of the ADDF’s administrative and overhead costs are covered by a private foundation, enabling 100% of all funds raised to go directly to Alzheimer’s drug research and related programs. The ADDF has granted more than $54 million to fund nearly 400 drug discovery programs in academic centers and at biotechnology companies in 18 countries.
Mr. Lauder is Chairman Emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of quality skin care, makeup, fragrance and hair care products, with annual sales of over $5 billion. He is also extremely active in the worlds of education, art, politics and philanthropy. He is a charter trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, former trustee and Chairman of the Board of the Whitney Museum of American Art, a trustee of The Aspen Institute and a member of the President’s Council of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. He was named an Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters in 1994 and was presented the National Order of Merit by the French Government in 1996. In 2002, Mr. Lauder was named an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by France and was recognized by The United States Navy Supply Corps Foundation with its Distinguished Alumni Award. www.alzdiscovery.org
LISA LORI – Operation Smile
Lisa Lori is president of Lisa Lori Communications, a Public Relations firm specializing in non-profit and lifestyle marketing. Lisa and her husband Mat have helped raise more than $300,000 since 2010 for Operation Smile through initiatives such as “The Three Little Bears” initiative, named after Lori’s three sons. For just $240, a donor can give a child in the developing world a life changing “smile surgery” and a teddy bear to accompany them through their surgery and recovery. Donors also receive one of the three bears.
Lisa was inspired to create “The Three Little Bears” because of her three little boys, Zachary, Luke and Griffin. Dr. Ronald Zuker of Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto performed the life changing transplant surgeries that gave her boys the ability to smile and speak more clearly after they had been born with facial paralysis. After learning about Operation Smile from Dr. Zuker, who is a medical volunteer for them, Lisa and life-long friend, handbag designer Kathy Van Zeeland, created “The Three Little Bears” for Operation Smile.
Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity that is dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children. They have provided more than 3.5 million healthcare evaluations and conducted over 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.
Lori has been interviewed and has written about philanthropy, special needs parenting and public relations by numerous media outlets including: Babycenter.com, the Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, NY1 and was named Role MOMdel of the Week by Moms in the City from The New York Daily News. She has also contributed a chapter to the critically acclaimed book Elephant in the Playroom by Denise Brodey and parents of special needs children. www.operationsmile.org/bears
April 21 2012
2nd Annual Open Hearts Gala: Dinner and live entertainment to honor individuals who live their lives in accordance with the Open Heart Philosophy. Each honoree receives the Open Heart Award and proceeds from the evening are given to each honoree’s charity of choice. This year’s Honorees are:
GLEN & KIM CAMPBELL – Alzheimer’s Awareness
Legendary country singer and five-time Grammy winner Glen Campbell announced last year that he was living with Alzheimer’s disease (www.alz.org). Since his diagnosis, he and his wife have used their story as a platform to help raise awareness for the disease that affects an estimated 5.1 million people worldwide. Campbell is currently touring on his “Goodbye Tour,” and was recently honored at the 54th annual GRAMMY Awards, receiving the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. www.alzfdn.org
JOHN & ROXANNE GREEN – The Christina-Taylor Green Foundation
John and Roxanna Green established The Christina-Taylor Green Foundation (www.christina-taylorgreen.org) in memory of their daughter, who was tragically killed in the January 8, 2011 Tucson shooting associated with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The Christina-Taylor Green Foundation is dedicated to honoring the life and memory of Christina-Taylor through charitable and educational projects that reflect and embody her interests, values and dreams. www.christina-taylorgreen.org
HOLLY ROBINSON PEETE & RODNEY PEETE – The Hollyrod Foundation
Actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, established the HollyRod Foundation (www.HollyRod.org) in honor of Holly’s late father Matt Robinson, who lost his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. The organization has since expanded its mission to raise awareness for autism, a developmental disorder their oldest son RJ was diagnosed with at the age of three. The HollyRod Foundation is dedicated to providing compassionate care to those living with Autism and Parkinson’s disease. www.hollyrod.org
KRISTI YAMAGUCHI – Always Dream Foundation
Olympic Gold medalist and World Champion, Kristi Yamaguchi, is one of the most popular and successful figure skaters of our time. Along with her many awards and accomplishments, Kristi is a member of the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame, World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the US Olympic Hall of Fame. In 1996, she founded the Always Dream Foundation dedicated to fundraising and supporting children’s charities. In 2008 Kristi became a Dancing with the Stars Champion and since has become a New York Times best-selling author, her children’s book Dream Big, Little Pig soared onto the bestseller list and remained there for multiple weeks. She is married to Stanley Cup Champion, Bret Hedican and together, they have two young daughters. www.alwaysdream.org
February 19 2011
The 1st Annual Open Hearts Gala: Dinner and live entertainment to honor individuals who live their lives in accordance with the Open Heart Philosophy. Each honoree received the Open Heart Award and proceeds from the evening are given to each honoree’s charity of choice.
JESSE BILLAUER – Life Rolls On
Well-known California surfer Jesse Billauer experienced a tragic surfing accident that left him paralyzed. Jesse founded Life Rolls On, a subsidiary of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury. The program utilizes action sports as a platform to inspire infinite possibilities despite paralysis. www.liferollson.org
ROBIN ROBERTS – Breast Cancer Awareness / St. Jude
As an anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America, Robin Roberts led a very public battle with breast cancer after being diagnosed in June 2007. Robin and her positive outlook have inspired millions of others touched by cancer to live and love with an Open Heart. She has gained recognition from health organizations around the country including The Susan G. Komen Foundation, The Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program and Gilda’s Club. www.stjude.org
PAT & EMMITT SMITH – Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities
Dallas Cowboys legend and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Emmitt Smith comes from humble beginnings and was told he would never succeed in football. Emmitt faced these challenges head on with determination, chased his dream and now inspires others to do the same, regardless of their circumstances. The first of his family to achieve a college degree, Emmitt, along with his wife Pat, established Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities to encourage the importance of education and to help provide resources to underserved youth. www.emmittsmith.com
SUSAN RIZZO-VINCENT – The Andréa Rizzo Foundation
Susan Rizzo-Vincent established The Andréa Rizzo Foundation in memory of her daughter, who, after surviving childhood cancer, was tragically killed at the age of 24 by a drunk driver. Andréa’s dream was to become a dance therapist and give children with cancer and disabilities the gift of dance. The Andréa Rizzo Foundation funds Dréa’s Dream, a nationwide pediatric dance therapy program for children with cancer and special needs. www.dreasdream.org