Category Archives: Charity

Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is a leader in funding Parkinson’s Disease research. Founded in 2000, the organization raises money and distributes it to various research institutions. Since its founding, the foundation has raised over $200 million since its founding. Founder, actor Michael J. Fox, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1990. The effects of the disease forced him to retire from acting in 2000, and he used the opportunity to help others with the disease. Fox described his diagnoses and struggles with Parkinson’s Disease in his two books: Lucky Man: A Memoir and Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. Through it all, however, he started the foundation to help others and search for the cure. With the help of the foundation, the scientific and medical communities now know more about the disease than ever before. Today, Fox has returned to acting having appeared in a number of TV series, including a reoccurring role on CBS’s The Good Wife.

The foundations website is an excellent introduction to the disease for those just diagnosed or those interested in learning about the disease. Included on the website is a Trial Finder which allows Parkinson’s patients to located clinical trials near them. The foundation realized that an issue with raising millions of dollars was that there were not enough participants in a number of the trials it funded. The Trial Finder has given all the donations more meaning by ensuring they are put to the best use.

I have been a fan of Michael J. Fox since I was a kid. Back to the Future is still one of my favorite movies, and I support his foundation and encourage others to do so as well. There are a number of ways to help. You can give a donation directly to the foundation, join Team Fox, or shop in the foundation’s store. Either way, you are helping a great cause.

Follow the Michael J. Fox Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


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Who is Laurene Powell Jobs?

Following the death of Steve Jobs, many have began to wonder who he really was.  He was an extremely private person and the same his true for his wife, Laurene Powell.  Powell met Steve in 1990 when he was giving a speech on the campus of Stanford University.  She was working on her MBA, and he was a guest lecturer in one of her classes.  They exchanged phone numbers and were married a year later.  Steve and Laurene have three children together ranging in age from 14 to 20.

When the official biography of Steve Jobs is published next week, it is certain we will learn a great deal about him and his life.  But we are not likely to learn a great deal about Powell.  Although she is a very private person, she is a very active philanthropist as well.  I was surprised to learn of her activism.  She is the co-founder of an organization called College Track, which helps under privileged children get through college.  Powell is also a member of the board for: Teach for America, New Schools Venture Fund, Stand for Children, New America Foundation, and Conservation International.  In addition, she was selected by President Barack Obama to serve on the White House Council for Community Solutions.

It is clear that Powell is a very active person and I hope that she continues, and expands, her activism following the death of her husband.  Her work is extremely important and has gone largely unnoticed.  I think we will learn this about Steve Jobs as well, but Powell has an opportunity now to expand her philanthropy.  Apple has not had the best reputation for charity work, but Tim Cook has already begun to change that by announcing that Apple will match all employee donations to any charity, up to $50,000 per year.  Let’s help Powell continue to make difference by supporting the organizations.  You can do so by clicking on their name above.

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Back to the Future Shoes raise $5.7 Million

The eBay auctions for the much hyped shoes worn by Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II, created by Nike, have ended and the sale raised $5.7 million for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Parkinson Disease research.  The shoes were highly sought after by shoe collectors and Back to the Future fans alike.  Rappers Kanye West and Tinie Tempah both purchased a pair.  Only 1,500 pairs of the shoes were created and Nike matched the purchase price for each pair sold.  Michael J. Fox promoted the shoes leading up to the auction on various television programs.  It was great to see the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Nike team up and create an awesome collectable while raising much needed research funds.

Source: Business Insider

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Princess Diana at 50

Diana with an AIDS patient in 1987

Today would have been Diana’s 50th birthday.  I can think of no better tribute than remembering her accomplishments, and not speculating what she would have been like had she lived (I am looking at you Newsweek).  Whether you like Diana or not, it is hard to ignore what she was able to accomplish with her star power.

A few weeks ago, CNN had a feature on their website about the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  While the article gave a short history of the disease, it left out one important detail that I will fill in.  AIDS was (and in many cases still is) a misunderstood disease.  There is a certain stigma placed upon those carrying it.  This was especially true in the 1980s when AIDS victims were separated from society.  That all began to change when Princess Diana began to visit AIDS victims in the mid-1980s.  She was the first high profile figure to list HIV/AIDS charities among her patron charities.  As if that was not enough, she was photographed with AIDS victims, touching and hugging them.  About this Diana said, “HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them hug heaven knows they need it.”

Sadly, the drama of her personal life overshadows the good she did. Her work is being carried on by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, by her sons, Princes William and Harry, and by the countless charities she supported.  Today, of all days, I like to remember Diana the activist, a person the world could certainly use today.

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REPOST: SS United States: A Ship in Distress

I wrote this last October and the situation has not changed with the SS United States.  She is still in danger of going to the scrapyard.  The Conservancy took over as title owners of the ship in early 2011, but only have the funds to keep her until August 2012.  If no plans for the ships future are secured by then, the Conservancy will have to sell her for scrap.  The Conservancy is working to get cooperate donations and partnerships established to save the ship from meeting an unnecessary end.  Please consider donating to the Conservancy or sharing this post with others to help spread the word about the SS United States.

“This is a crime against shipbuilding – a crime against history…[to] let such a ship die such a miserable death.”

-Walter Cronkite, 2007


SS United States

Built in 1950, the SS United States is over 1,000 feet long and holds the record for fastest transatlantic crossing.  The maiden voyage for the SS United States was in 1952, and she took back the Blue Ribbon for the United States.  Her transatlantic crossing beat the fourteen-year record of the Queen Mary by over ten hours (with a time of 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes).  It was not surprise to the print media however.  It was predicted the SS United States would easily beat the record with its speed of 36 knots.  On its return voyage to New York, which took only 3 days, 12 hours and 12 minutes, the record for the westbound crossing was also taken by the SS United States.  To this day, the westbound crossing record is held by the SS United States.

The 1950s was a lavish time in America and the pleasure cruise was at its height.  The SS United States was also at her peak.  Throughout the 1950s, the ship was often 90% booked with each voyage.  However, the jet age was entering maturity.  Travel was no longer a leisure, but an inconvenience to many and the ocean-going cruise liners were hit hard.  In 1964, the SS United States was sold to a foreign company and in November 1969, she was withdrawn from passenger service and laid up in Norfolk, Virginia.

SS United States’s Lavish Interior


The United States Navy had control of the ship until she was sold in 1978. In 1984, the interiors were auctioned off to pay off various debts.  The SS United States was eventually moved to Philadelphia in 1996. There was hope in 2002, however, when the Norwegian Cruise Line purchased the ship with the intent to revive the ship.  This proved to be too costly and the Norwegian Cruise Lines offered the ship for sale.  Many scrap yards expressed interest.

It was about this time that a group of people took interest in the SS United States because they did not want to see it scrapped and the SS United States Conservancy was reborn.  Fund raising efforts were strong, but not strong enough to purchase the ship for NCL.  In June 2010, however, that changed.  A local philanthropist, H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, donated up to $5.8 million to purchase the ship from NCL.  The title transfer was completed February 1, 2011, and the Conservancy is now working to build a future for the SS United States.  Plans have been suggested for making the ship into a casino in Philiadephia, while others have suggested she should be moved to New York City.  Either way, the cost is going to be great, and investors will be required.  The ship was stripped of everything in the 1980s, but this also presents an opportunity.  She is, in essence, a blank slate.

SS United States today in Philadelphia

As a historian, I hate to see an important piece of maritime history teetering on the edge of destruction.  The SS United States would be a great addition to a casino or as a hotel.  The preservation of the ship is of upmost importance.  Naturally there are critics of the efforts to preserve the ship, but I do not want to see the SS United States have the fate of her sister ship, the SS America.  The SS America was being towed to a new location when she ran a ground.  Little effort was made to save the ship and she ultimately rusted and collapsed into the sea.

The tragic end of the SS America

The SS United States is an important part of America’s history and deserves every chance to be immortalized.  The ship has many connections to families across the world, but it should also hold a special connection to every American.  Ships such as the Lusitania and Titanic are immortalized, but they are not American ships.  The SS United States was the pride of American cruising in the 1950s.  Today, cruise liners are popular, but none are American.  The SS United States and her sister ship, the SS Americawere two out of a small number of American flag ships.  The SS America is gone and the SS United States faces a similar fate.

Video of Title Transfer

Be sure to follow the SS United State Conservancy on Facebook andTwitter!


-Donate to the SS United States Conservancy

-Purchase items from the SS United States Conservancy Store

-Become a SS United States Plank Owner

-Post links to this blog or to SS United States sites on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.


SS United States Conservancy


Filed under Charity, History, SS United States


The Conservancy is getting close to 3,000 fans on Facebook!  We have revamped the Facebook page with facts about the ship, updates from the Conservancy, and WEEKLY TRIVIA.  Help us spread the word by liking the Facebook page and sharing it with your friends!  Lets get to 3,000 likes and beyond!


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SS United States Conservancy Social Media

I apologize for the lack of updates over the past few weeks.  The semester is coming to a close and I have been very busy with that.

The primary topic of this post is the SS United States Conservancy.  The Conservancy has worked hard to preserve the ship since its creation in 1992.  When the Conservancy took over title to the ship on February 1, 2011, their work went into overdrive as they now have 18 months to find a home for the vessel.  With this looming deadline, the Conservancy is working hard to get partners lined up to ensure the future of the ship.

I would like to announce that on Monday, May 2, 2011, the Conservancy’s Social Media accounts will be revamped a group working for the Conservancy, and I am proud to be a member of that group!  This will allow the Conservancy to focus full time on preservation of the SS United States and give me the opportunity to work closely with the group and assisting in keeping the public informed.  Come see what we are doing!  I encourage everyone to follow the Conservancy on Twitter and Like their page on Facebook.

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