By Amy & Nancy Harrington, Pop Culture Passionistas
A “Biggest Loser” pays it forward, a kid honors his dad’s musical legacy and a wrestling star pays tribute to the troops. Here are this week’s most inspirational pop culture moments.
The Biggest Loser” Pays It Forward
On Tuesday night Patrick House became the tenth “Biggest Loser” by dropping 181 pounds. House won $250,000 and the money will come in handy because the reality show contestant has been unemployed since January and was relying on his parents and in-laws to support his wife and two children.
In a recent conference call interview, House told us he plans on using the prize money to repay the debt to his family and to start a foundation to help fight childhood obesity. First up on the list of causes for the Patrick House Foundation is a joint effort with his new employer, Mind Stream Academy. The school in South Carolina is focused on working with overweight kids and offered House a job when they open in January 2011. The administrators will be building an entire program around him and his “Biggest Loser” experiences. House declared, “I’m going to be on top of this childhood obesity problem that… we have in this country.”
He announced, “Through the school and through my… Patrick House Foundation, we’re offering a $5,000 scholarship for any child across America that enrolls in Mind Stream Academy during the month of January 2011… And we’re also hosting a contest for kids nationwide to write a letter in to me at the school explaining why they… need to be at Mind Stream Academy.”
He explained, “We’re going to pick one winner from all letters we get across the country and one lucky child will receive a full scholarship… courtesy of the Patrick House Foundation. I’m really excited about that. It’s an excellent way for me to pay it forward.”
He also revealed that his New Years’ resolution has changed this year. Instead of a weight loss goal as in the past, he new intention is to “work on being a great father to my kids and a great role model to the kids at Mind Stream Academy.”
He continued, “I really, really feel that this is an opportunity to make a difference in a lot of children’s lives… I’ve always had a soft spot for kids in my heart and knowing now that I’m going to be able to, day in and day out in my career, make differences in these kids’ lives is just a great feeling.”
The Miz Sets Lofty Goals in the Wrestling Biz
Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unusual of places. Take, for example, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin– the former “Real World” star turned pro wrestler. We don’t tend to look to either source when we’re trying to find a role model, but we have to admit The Miz is not typical of either clique. This guy proves that if you believe in your dream, you can make it happen.
In a recent conference call interview in support of the December 18 NBC special “WWE Tribute To The Troops,” he told us, “Growing up in Parma, Ohio you kind of just go through the paces where you go to high school, you go to college. After college you go back to Parma you get a family and you get a job and that’s your life.”
But Mizanin had bigger dreams. He continued, “Once I tried out for ‘The Real World’ and made it on to the show, it made me realize I could do everything I wanted with my life. So I started wrestling on the independent and WWE didn’t call until three years later.”
Becoming a part of the franchise didn’t mean smooth sailing for The Miz however. He explained, “When I got to the WWE, the WWE superstars were not very receptive to me. They thought I was a reality star that just got a contract because I was reality star and that was the only reason why. I never paid my dues. I didn’t earn my stripes. And so it was very, very hard in the beginning.”
His co-stars slowly warmed to him, he said, “However as time progressed, people saw how hard I worked. How much I wanted it.”
And the struggles ultimately paid off. “All those obstacles that I had to go through were all worth it in the end because now I am the WWE Champion. I have conquered my dream.”
But The Miz isn’t content to rest on his laurels. He’s got bigger plans. He spelled it out, “Now it’s not only do I want to be WWE Champion. I want to be the poster child of WWE. I don’t want you to think John Cena when you think WWE. I don’t want you to think the Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin, I want you to think The Miz. So that’s the [new goal].” We must admit, we’re believers in the power of positive thinking… and converts to the power of The Miz.
After all, as he pointed out, “I don’t know how many people have ever gotten to say, ‘I’ve lived my dream and now I have to find a new dream.’ It’s incredible.”
Catch The Miz on the “WWE Tribute To The Troops” on December 18 at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. Central on NBC. And may you all achieve your dreams in 2011.
Ben Babylon – A Musical Legacy in the Making
You may not know the name of Grammy winner Guy Babylon but you definitely have heard him play. Babylon was the keyboardist with the Elton John band, recording and touring with the legendary musician for 21 years. When he died suddenly in September of 2009, he left behind not only a musical legacy, but a wife, two sons and a daughter. The 53-year-old musician, composer and arranger also passed down his incredible talent to his youngest child, then 11-year-old Ben.
Guy’s son remembers one early tune he composed, “I wrote this song called, ‘I Lost My Mind to a High Five.’ I had no idea what I was saying.” His mom Kathy pointed out that it didn’t matter, “If it rhymed it was good.”
But after Guy passed away, Ben seemed to undergo an inexplicable musical transformation. It all started with “Goodbye Superman,” the incredibly touching tribute that he wrote for his dad’s memorial service.
Kathy recalled, “When Guy passed away, Ben had like two or three days before the service and he said, ‘I want to write something for dad’… And then he came out with that song.”
The young keyboardist made it clear that he had no other option but to put his thoughts about his father into a song. “Well, there was no really other way for me because I don’t know what to say in regular words. To express everything that I was feeling it had to be in music and lyrics.”
Kathy didn’t hear the original piece until Ben played it at the memorial, and she couldn’t believe her ears. She marveled, “Those lyrics that came out of him, they’re so adult… So, it’s like something completely changed. Something is going on now… I mean his lyrics that he writes just freak me out because they’re so beyond his years. It’s like, ‘Where is this coming from?’ I’m enjoying it. It’s an amazing thing.”
And even Ben acknowledges that his style seemed to have matured over night. He reflected, “It’s probably not coming from me though. It’s something else.” What that something is, even he isn’t sure.
Now the young Babylon is in the process of recording his debut album. And he’ll most likely do so with the support of many of his father’s former bandmates. Ben and Kathy have remained close to Elton’s guitarist Davey Johnstone, drummer Nigel Olsson, percussionist John Mahon and bassist Bob Birch. Ben hopes that he might be able to persuade one or two of them to make an appearance on his premiere outing. It wouldn’t be surprising if they did, Ben commented, “All of them are very supportive of me.”
That includes Elton John himself, who invited Ben for a visit when he was recording “The Union” with Leon Russell earlier this year. The young singer-songwriter had a hard time defining what meeting his legend meant to him. “I don’t know what to say about it because it was just so amazing. And I don’t know if I was thinking. But it was really cool ’cause I got to go into the studio and then I got to talk to Elton. I got to meet Leon Russell. And I got to go play Elton’s piano that he was recording on.”
So it’s no surprise that in April, Ben’s going to be lending Elton John a little support of his own. Ben’s been asked to be a part of “Lunch Around the World” in Boston. Kathy said that the event “is associated with Elton’s AIDS foundation… We’re gonna fly out there and Ben’s gonna play…. And all the proceeds will go to Elton’s AIDS foundation.”
For more info on Ben visit his official website and follow him on Facebook.
“Goodbye Superman” is available now on iTunes.