Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week, we speak with hip-hop star Darryl McDaniels, better known as DMC of Run-DMC, about his involvement with the Garden of Dreams Foundation.
The nonprofit charity works with the New York Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, MSG Media, MSG Entertainment and Fuse to "make dreams come true for kids facing obstacles." The organization hosts numerous charity events and activities each year that often include Madison Square Garden celebrities.
The foundation's big summer event, "Dream Week," runs July 6-12. Highlights include a skating party with Rangers alumni, a basketball session with the entire Liberty team, and a trip to the Red Bulls Arena to meet and practice with the team and announcers.
Updated December 2011
By Meg Zrini
On Monday, Dec. 5, the Rangers played the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden. For many kids, it wasn’t just another hockey game. For the Garden of Dreams kids, it was an unforgettable night of smiles, singing, laughing, announcing and even some Zamboni riding.
Garden of Dreams creates memorable events for children who face difficulties in their lives including illness, tragedy, homelessness, poverty and foster care issues. Kids from Garden of Dreams take over Madison Square Garden for a Rangers game once a year. Many of these kids are sent to Garden of Dreams from other organizations such as The Children’s Aid Society, Maria Ferari Children’s Hospital, Make A Wish Foundation and many others.
The evening started with the kids singing the Star Spangled Banner as well as the Canadian national anthem. Taylor and Samantha Ryan from Cohen’s Children Society rode the Zamboni as it cleaned the ice. Tyler Mejordo announced to the arena who was starting the game and Aurora Ismali from Make A Wish Connecticut did a wonderful job hosting the evening.
At the end of the day, these kids may not remember who scored the winning goal (Toronto won 4-2) but they will remember meeting their hero, announcing their favorite team to an arena of fans and dropping the game puck for a couple of legendary hockey players. They will remember forgetting their troubles for an evening of fun.
Original interview by Lauren Busch, NBC News
Q: What was so appealing about Garden of Dreams that made you want to join the board??
DMC: The Garden of Dreams is fantastic at giving kids, who this world considers underprivileged, opportunities to become the people that they were put here to be in the first place. Garden of Dreams don’t look at these children as underprivileged, who need special treatment; they look at these kids as kids of purpose and destiny. They give kids chances to overcome their obstacles, regardless of their situation, whether it’s foster care, or homelessness, or education and physical disabilities.
Q: What inspired you to do charity work with children?
DMC: Well, after doing everything that I did with Run DMC, having a life that I had, I found out at the age of 35 that I was adopted. It was a big shock to me, didn’t know my whole life, and then I found out that I was a foster kid. So I was one of those kids, and I looked at what was important about my life; (it) isn’t the fact that I’m DMC of Run DMC, that’s easy.
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I will always be the king of rock, one of the greatest rappers ever. The important thing about my existence is: people took time out of their lives to give me a chance to be what I was put here to be. You know, my mother and father decided to adopt me out of foster care, and send me to school, and discipline me, and educate me, and teach me; that’s all these kids need. So it made me realize that with the children of the world, flesh and blood has nothing to do with being brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers to every child in every city, in every ghetto, in every orphanage, in every group home.
I am one of those kids, and I represent what happens when you allow and support an organization like Garden of Dreams to make a kid’s dreams come true.
Q: So why do you think people should support this cause over others?
DMC: Because when you look at these children of the world, regardless of their situation, whether it be poverty, homelessness, you know, foster care, kids in group homes, incarceration, a lack of the sufficient educational mediums and facilities, these children are the next leaders, and people that will be running this world. These kids are the next you and me, the next journalists, the next entertainers, the next teachers, politicians, lawyers, scientists, pilots, astronauts, and the list goes on.
The most valuable resource that this Earth has is educating, nurturing and putting time and energy into our growing children, regardless of their relationships to us and their situations. All of those people have a habit of having their own children and walking around the world and seeing kids in bad situations and they go, “I ain’t got nothing to worry about, those ain’t my kids.”
No, every child that is born into this world is our children and it’s our responsibility as, not only the great nation of America, but globally, to give these children every chance that they deserve, every opportunity no matter what it is. That’s why they should support the Garden of Dreams, ‘cuz these kids are us.
Q: What will be your duties as a member of the board?
DMC: I’m basically the, I ain’t going to say ambassador, the guy who is able to navigate the delicate line between politics, religion, legal laws, what I am able to do, because I represent hip-hop, I come from the music background, and music is a universal language. So with me, I am able to go and talk and relate to everybody, everywhere, globally, with a 6-year-old kid that likes my music, or the 65-year-old person that likes “Walk This Way.” I am kind of the ambassador or the spokesman, or the representative ... the living, breathing proof of what Garden of Dreams does. Garden of Dreams basically creates little DMCs and DMCettes (laughs).
Q: Do you have any additional comments, anything else you would like to say?
DMC: Overall, Garden of Dreams represents a movement, as opposed to just being another charity. Garden of Dreams represents an initiative. The one thing that I really like about Garden of Dreams is that they’re not the type of organization that will just say, “OK, let’s go give out some computers to the kids,” do it, get publicity on it, and never see the kids that they touched again.
This is why I love to be on the board, because when they have contact with a certain kid or a certain charity, or a certain organization, they continue to have impressions made upon those individuals. We see these kids throughout the year, we don’t just come to the hood and give out turkeys on Thanksgiving and the kids gotta wait another whole year to see us. That’s why this organization is having success, because they continuously, they consistently (are) involved in the lives of each individual child they touch. That’s when you have change.
You just can’t come and say, “I’m just gonna give out some coats on Christmas” and the kids get all happy and they never see us again. That’s how we’re making a difference, because we stay involved in the lives of these kids, because they need to understand that OK, you can’t be with your birth mother and your birth-grandfather, you can’t be with your blood family, but you will never be without family again.
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