Beliefnet
Inspiration Report

RND_ThursdayMay25_whiteCelebrities from all over Hollywood are joining together to make a difference in the lives of children in need by participating in Red Nose Day 2017.

Red Nose Day is an annual fundraising event that raises money for charities driven to end child poverty – one “nose” at a time. Christian organizations that receive funding and benefit from Red Nose Day include Covenant House and charity: water. Other charities that will benefit include Feeding America, Save The Children and Boys and Girls Club of America. The charities spread throughout the U.S. and around the world to make a different for all children.

To help raise awareness and aid in fundraising efforts, NBC has dedicated a special night of television programming on Thursday, May 25th. Organized by Comic Relief, the hour long special will also feature a sequel to the 2003 film Love Actually called Red Nose Day Actually that reunites most of the original cast. It will be hosted by Chris Hardwick live from Rockefeller Plaza in New York City and premiere at 10 p.m.

Throughout the night there will be other special Red Nose Day-themed programming. The full line-up includes Celebrity Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day at 8:00 p.m. followed by a 9:00 p.m. episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” that has actress Julia Roberts joining adventurer Bear Grylls in Kenya.

Throughout the night, viewers will be entertained, learn about the programs supported by Red Nose Day that are helping to change the lives of children, and have the opportunity to support the charity through calls to donate. This is the first time the night of programming for Red Nose Day has included special editions of existing NBC shows.

Further celebrity contributors include Ben Affleck, Patrick Dempsey, and Orlando Bloom, plus the cast of Love Actually including Keira Knightly, Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, and more. The lineup of talent worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – a huge sponsor and promoter of the cause – to create a video announcing that the foundation will match up to $1m in donations made to Red Nose Day in the US using Facebook’s charitable giving tools – enabling people to double the impact of their contribution.

The video references the famed Love Actually scene where actor Andrew Lincoln silently professes his love to Keira Knightley’s character using hand-drawn signs. In this clip, Liam Neeson, Gates and others pull the same stunt, while telling Americans that every dollar up to $1 million they raise on Facebook until June 15 will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Frances’ “No Matter” soundtracks the video.

While some celebrities took the comedic stance, others like musician Ed Sheeran help to remind us exactly of the children we are helping. A special video featuring Sheeran and a little girl named Peachesis a testament to the inner strength and hope that lies within all children – even those in challenging circumstances.  Peaches lost her father during the Ebola crisis in Liberia, and has been unable to go to school since his death.  She sings to honor her father’s memory, and shares with Ed her desire to return to school, to become a musician, and to use her voice to sing in churches.

In addition, actor and comedian, Kumail Nanjiani, also known as Silicon Valley’s very scared and hilarious Dinesh Chugtai, will be singing karaoke live on Facebook today (May 16) at 11:30am PT to help raise funds.

The Red Nose Day fundraising effort is a relative newcomer in the U.S. but started in the U.K. more than 30 years ago. The American effort has raised $60 million over the past two years for children’s causes worldwide.

The campaign’s iconic Red Noses are now available at Walgreens and Duane Reade stores nationwide, with all profits supporting the cause. Fans can share how they’re celebrating and supporting this year on social media at @RedNoseDayUSA and by using the hashtags #RedNoseDay and #NosesOn. Fore more information, visit NBC’s website.

Switzer_Finish

Kathrine Switzer helped change the future of women’s sports by becoming the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. It wasn’t easy—an iconic photograph of the 1967 race shows a man attacking and grabbing at Switzer mid-run, in an attempt to get her off the track, as her coach and then-boyfriend defended her.

Her disqualification? Running while female.

In 1967, the Amateur Athletic Union rules did not allow women to officially participate in long-distance running in any of its sanctioned marathons. But according to Switzer’s memoir, “Marathon Woman,” there came a moment when she knew she was going to run it, anyway.

Switzer’s then-coach, Arnie Briggs, himself a veteran of 15 Boston Marathons, was fond of telling stories of famous Boston Marathon runners. Switzer loved listening to these, but one night, grew tired of hearing about these experiences secondhand, expressing her interest in running the race.

Arnie’s response?

“No woman can run the Boston Marathon.” The distance was too much for “fragile women.”

At her insistence, though, Arnie agreed to take her to Boston if she could first prove her ability to run the distance—26 miles.

She did—in fact, as Switzer’s memoir shows, she outpaced her coach, who promptly passed out after a 31 mile practice run.

When it came time to register for the race, Switzer used her initials—K.V. Switzer. This wasn’t an attempt to sneak past the guidelines, but was simply the way she signed her name—as a journalist, she felt this was more in line with other popular writers of her time like J.D. Salinger and E.E. Cummings.

On the day of the race, Switzer tried to remain unnoticed, but already the murmurs of amazement were brewing in the other runners. One insisted on taking a picture with her—as the only female runner there, she was a wonder.

The gun went on, and finally, Switzer was there, feet pounding the ground in the marathon she had only dreamed of participating in.

But around mile four, something changed. A city bus outfitted for the press pulled up, cameras clicking toward her. She, and the runners around her, began to smile and wave. When her eyes swept back to the race, though, there was a man in an overcoat and felt hat standing in the middle of the road, shaking his finger. He reached for her as she passed, catching her glove and ripping it from her hand as he tried to restrain her.

Moments after, she heard the sound of leather slapping asphalt, and a voice screaming, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” When she turned, a huge man, teeth bared, face contorted with rage, was right there, tearing at the bib that held her marathon number.

This man was Jock Semple—the very organizer of the Boston Marathon. And within seconds, he was intercepted by Arnie, and then tackled by Switzer’s boyfriend, Tom Miller.

Cameras captured all of it, making history.

Later in the race, the press truck caught up with her, the journalists aboard hurling accusatory questions. Even her boyfriend, Tom, the man who had tackled Semple, became combative, blaming her for the situation.

But despite the negativity, Switzer ran finishing the race, proving that women were not too fragile to run long-distance. Her final time was 4 hours and 20 minutes, but she would later be disqualified and expelled from the Amateur Athletic Union for her run.

It made no difference. In the following days, her run was all over the news, and the photo of her being chased by Semple, of her running, and of her finishing the race were all over the news. She would go on, in the following years, to run 40 marathons, and to win the New York City Marathon in 1974.

But for female athletes, her 1967 Boston Marathon run was a huge victory. This was one of the moments that helped take the idea of women in sports into the mainstream, paving the way for later social changes.

Today, Switzer is an acclaimed speaker who addresses cultural and social change, and has made use of her original Boston Marathon runner’s number—261—to form 261 Fearless, a nonprofit running club for women.

Most poignantly, Switzer recently crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon for the 9th time, on the 50th anniversary of her original, groundbreaking run. She wore her same numbers, which became a rallying cry amongst female runners.

Switzer affirms that things have most certainly changed for the better since that day in 1967 when a man tried to rip the number from her shirt, but in an interview with CNN, she acknowledges that there’s still work to do before women find their equal place in society.

“The race today was a celebration of the past 50 years; the next 50 are going to be even better.”

JonnCapturey Benjamin was elated to finish his first race alongside Neil Laybourne, his savior.

Benjamin managed to complete the marathon with the stranger who talked him down from a bridge when he was at his lowest point, feeling suicidal.

They spent the majority of the race with their arms around each other for emotional support and have now become two very close friends.

The “stranger on the bridge,” Laybourne, yelled “what an amazing experience!” as the two ran the last mile. “We did it!” he added as they crossed the finish line.

They ran to support the charity Heads Together, the mental health campaign founded by the three young Royals. The pair managed to raise over £30,000 for the charity.

Neil, who spotted the lone figure of a young man standing still on the London Waterloo Bridge amid the commuters while walking to work, stopped to talk to him, telling Jonny: “It’ll get better mate, you will get better.” After an invitation for coffee, Neil successfully talked Jonny back down to safety. After a 25 minute conversation, the emergency services stepped in and the pair went their separate ways.

Jonny, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder when he was 20, has spoken frankly about his own mental health struggles, which played a part in his reason for standing on Waterloo Bridge contemplating suicide.

It was only in 2014, when Jonny launched a social media campaign to find and thank the stranger. He started the nationwide campaign in the U.K. and called it “Find Mike” – his nickname he made for Laybourn. It worked.

Eight years after the incident, the two were reunited and have kept in contact as they prepared to run the London Marathon to raise awareness and money towards mental health. They want to get people talking about the difficult subject.

As part of their powerful and important message, the two met with Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in March 2016 where they discussed mental health and efforts to prevent suicide. The royal couple then convinced the pair to run the race for Heads Together.

“It’s going to be emotional, very emotional,” Benjamin told The Telegraph about running the marathon. “But we’re all in it together and I’m excited to be a part of it – it’s a privilege.”

“I’m feeling really positive about it,” Laybourn added. “When you’ve said it, and you’ve told Heads Together you’re doing it, you can’t undo it then.”

They finished the marathon together in 5 hours and 26 minutes, coming to see crowds of people cheering them on.

Shortly before the marathon, Jonny wrote: “Admittedly, I haven’t done the training I needed for it. It’s been a tough year so far with my relapse and going back into hospital, family illness, and most recently my Uncle and then Grandma passing away a few days ago. But I WILL complete the 26 miles! Even if I have to crawl some of the way!!”

And, he did.

Rebekah Marine

Rebekah Marine/SleeperAwake

Rebekah Marine is the bionic model.

Born with Symbrachydactyly, a congenital abnormality that results in missing or malformed hands and limbs, Marine is missing her right forearm. But she’s never considered it a disability—only a difference. And now she’s using that difference to not only make a big splash in the world of fashion, but to break through the barriers which typically inform the way we look at those with visible disabilities.

In an interview with the Daily Beast, Marine says that growing up with her limb difference never caused any issues with her friends, family, or classmates.

That all changed, however, when she decided to model.

“As a kid, I always wanted to model. I really enjoyed being in front of the camera. I was really such a ham,” she says, in the interview.

As she underwent audition after audition, she faced numerous rejections.

“I didn’t fully understand why they wouldn’t consider me as a model. It became challenging for me to grasp that the idea they really wouldn’t take me seriously. It never really dawned on me. Then, towards high school, I started to realize, ‘Okay, hey, I am different.’ That’s when I started to shy away from the camera.”

Like many before her, Marine sometimes faces social consequences because her body is physically different from that of those around her—it is common for those who are disabled to experience disgrace, isolation, shame, and unfair rejection.

Temporarily setting aside her modeling dreams, Marine attended and graduated from Rowan University before moving on to a full-time job in the sales industry. But she wouldn’t stay out of the modeling industry for long.

Marine briefly wore a mechanical prosthetic when in elementary school, but found it too difficult to use at the time. At age 22, however, she began her search for a prosthetic again. As she was considering her options, a friend suggested that she model with a prosthetic and look into becoming a spokesperson for the company that produces it.

That suggestion revived Marine’s original aspirations, and once she was fitted with her new arm, she wasted no time in getting in contact with a local photographer, setting up a photo shoot, and starting in on building a modeling portfolio. In 2013, Marine signed with Models of Diversity, an organization which matches disabled models up with designers and career opportunities.

Things only went up from there, and it wasn’t long before Marine successfully became a spokesperson for Touch Bionics, manufacturer of her stylish i-limb quantum prosthetic hand.

And not long after, woman who was once told that modeling wasn’t for her walked in New York Fashion Week, appearing in the FTL Moda show in September of 2015.

“It’s been quite a journey for me. It was hard at first to put myself out there for the whole world to see,” Marine told People. “But I’ve become quite comfortable with myself now, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Marine is now not only a model, but an inspirational speaker and a humanitarian as well, and has gone on to become one of the most recognizable figures in the disabled community. Her fame and success inspire those with disabilities to believe not only that they can achieve their dreams, but that they are whole, valid, and valuable people. Her efforts to raise awareness of disability issues is generating a new level of empathy for those with physical differences.

“It’s so important to include more diverse models, because after all, nearly one in five people in America have a disability,” she told Mashable. “We should be celebrating uniqueness, not conforming to what the media thinks is beautiful.”