This is an article everyone should read: ( Posted earlier in News and Happenings)
We all feel such a sense of loss and sorrow at the passing of such a gifted and talented artist. He blazed his own trail in dance and music with his talent withstanding the test of time. Michael just made you want to sing and dance, which was perhaps his greatest gift to us. His career and accumulated body of work are the most documented, photographed, filmed and recorded in history. In that regard he will, like Elvis before him, and Marilyn Monroe, continue to entertain us and bring joy into our world each time we watch his videos or listen to his music. He is a cultural icon. We owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude for the joy and laughter he has brought into our lives.
His life's work as a philanthropist is exemplary and includes support for over 30 charitable organizations including the Make-a-Wish Foundation, USA for Africa, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Heal the World Foundation, Wishes Granted Organization, Boys & Girls Clubs, the DARE program, YMCA, NAACP, United Negro College Fund, and the Michael Jackson UNCF Endowed Scholarship Fund.
On behalf of these and other charities he helped raise over $300 million. In addition he has donated over $50 million of his personal fortune over the years, but even more importantly spent generously of his time visiting cancer patients and burn victims at hospitals around the world. If he learned of a child in pain or suffering whom he could help, he did. While visiting a hospital in Budapest he met a 4-year-old boy desperately needing a liver transplant. This child had been abandoned by his mother and had lived in the hospital his entire life. Touched by his plight, Michael and his wife, Lisa Marie, visited the boy for hours and then pledged funds from Heal the World Foundation to cover all expenses related to the boy's transplant.
In 1985 he co-wrote the song We are the World with Lionel Richie and helped organize an amazing collaboration of 44 artists to record the song and create the video to raise funds to feed starving children in Africa. The hit single Heal the World and later the Heal the World Tour were such successful fundraising events that it is estimated these projects alone raised in excess of $100 million for the charity USA for Africa. He was involved with Hands across America, a human chain of 7 million people extending across the continental United States. In 2000, the Guinness Book of World Records listed him as the pop star supporting the most charities. He was only 42 years old.
Michael's professional accomplishments are well documented. His philanthropic works were something for which he kept a relatively low profile. He did it from his heart because he was a kind and loving person who genuinely loved children.
He wrote Gone Too SoonA for Ryan White, a pediatric AIDS patient suffering not just from a new and frightening disease but society's fear and ignorance of it. Ryan contracted the disease through tainted blood transfusions; Michael welcomed him to his home at Neverland after Ryan was banned from school.
After Michael suffered serious burns from an accident while working on a Pepsi commercial, he donated his $1.5 million insurance settlement to a burn center for children. In 1984 he visited children in the unit for burn victims at Brotman-Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles and also donated funds for a 19-bed unit at Mount Sinai New York Medical Center for leukemia and cancer research. He welcomed sick and dying children to his own home at Neverland Ranch, a fairy-tale land as depicted in the story Peter Pan. A 14-year-old boy suffering from cystic fibrosis was invited to Michael's home as the boy's dying wish. Michael spent time with terminally ill children backstage while on tour, and visited a 12-year-old who was terribly burned by his father in an act of revenge against his former wife. His willingness to help these children was heartwarming.
He created the Michael Jackson UNCF Endowed Scholarship Fund in 1985, a fund for students majoring in performance art and communication, providing money each year to students attending a UNCF member college or university. In February 1986 he heard that one of his biggest fans, a 14-year-old girl, had just undergone open heart surgery, so he called her and invited her to Neverland for dinner and a movie when she was feeling better. She was able to visit on March 8 of that year. The value of her smiles and laughter: priceless. It was simply another act of kindness by this generous man.
He supported the work of the NAACP particularly as it related to prejudice against black artists and donated many personal items for charitable auctions to raise funds for the education of children in developing countries. The proceeds from sales of the record Man in the Mirror were donated to Camp Ronald McDonald, a camp for children who suffer from cancer. In 1988 he presented a $600,000 check to the United Negro College Fund and donated tickets for three concerts in Atlanta, Georgia to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Somehow that year he found the time and energy to visit the Bambini-Gesu Children's Hospital in Rome to sign autographs and give candy to the children and donated 100,000 pounds to the hospital. He visited terminally ill children at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. While visiting a unit for less critical patients he stayed longer than usual and told the children a story. On his 30th birthday he performed a concert in Leeds, England for the charity Give for Life, to help fund the immunization of children, and presented the charity with a check for 65,000 pounds.
In 1989 he made a compassionate visit to Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, where a few weeks earlier a 25-year-old madman had fired at the school's playground, killing 5 children and wounding 39 others. A horrible, senseless act of violence followed by a genuine act of kindness. He also invited 200 underprivileged children from the St. Vincent Institute for handicapped children and Big Brothers/Big Sisters to the Circus Vargas in Santa Barbara and then to his home in the Santa Ynez Valley to see his private zoo. Later that year he worked with the Wishes Granted organization to help a 4-year-old boy suffering from leukemia fulfill his wish of meeting Michael, and invited the little boy to a performance of Canadian acrobats.
In support of the Childhelp organization, Michael invited 82 abused and neglected children to Neverland for a barbeque, games, and a movie in 1990. He did the same for Project Dream Street, L.A. to help children with life threatening illnesses. He also hosted an event for 130 children in the YMCA's summer program of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
Always sensitive to social issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness he paid a visit in 1991 to the Youth Sports & Art Foundation in Los Angeles which supports families of gang members dealing with drug-abuse. He talked to the children and presented them with a wide-screen TV and a financial gift. In December his office, MJJ Productions, provided 200 turkey dinners to needy families in Los Angeles.
He spent 11 days in Africa in February, 1992 traveling over 30,000 miles to visit hospitals, orphanages, schools, churches, and institutions for mentally handicapped children. Later that year he held a press conference at New York Radio City Music Hall to announce that he was planning a new world tour to raise funds for his Heal the World Foundation. This Foundation would support the fight against AIDS, Juvenile Diabetes, Camp Ronald McDonald, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
He quietly and compassionately defrayed the funeral expenses for Ramon Sanchez, who was killed during the Los Angeles riots, and the following year announced that he would donate $1.25 million for children who had suffered as a result of the riots.
He made large donations to the poor and needy in Munich, Germany and donated tour earnings of 400,000 pounds to charities in Dublin, Ireland. He visited children at the Sophia Children's Hospital in Rotterdam, presenting them with a check for 100,000 pounds. To the delight of the children at the Queen Elizabeth Children's Hospital in London, he visited with Mickey and Minnie Mouse from Euro-Disney.
In November, 1992, Michael helped supervise the loading of 43 tons of medication, blankets and winter clothes destined for Sarajevo, a war-ravaged country where children were being targeted by snipers. His charity, Heal the World Foundation, collaborated with AmeriCares to deliver supplies and resources totaling $2.1 million to Sarajevo, to be allocated under the supervision of the United Nations. He held a press conference in Tokyo at the American Embassy and presented a check for $100,000 from Pepsi, his tour sponsor, to Heal the World Foundation.
Throughout the 1990s Micheal continued to donate his time and energy to supporting children's charities all over the world. He invested millions of dollars building a children's retreat and amusement park with rides and a zoo at Neverland in an effort to "bring people happiness and remind him of the good things in life."
He continued to support the Boys & Girls Clubs and the DARE program amongst dozens of others. He was instrumental in Pepsi-Cola International. donating new ambulances to the Contacts One Independent Living Center for Children in Moscow and the Hospital de Ninos run by Dr. Ricardo Gutierrez in Buenos Aires. Deeply affected by conditions in impoverished nations, he donated part of his History Tour earnings to the renovation of a hospital in Manila and waved his personal fee for a Bombay appearance, donating $1.1 million to a local charity to help educate children living in slums.
Exclusive photographs of his son Prince were published in British magazine OK! and the 1 million pounds paid by the magazine were donated to charity. In 1998, while at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Michael was introduced to a 5-year-old suffering from cancer. He spent the afternoon with the child and went with him to the "Star Trek: The Experience" attraction. In 1999 he presented Nelson Mandela with a check for 1,000,000 South African rand for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.
Michael expressed his support for our troops in 2002 when he invited more than 200 Team Vandenberg members who had recently returned from overseas deployments, and their families, to Neverland to show his appreciation for the sacrifices of military personnel in his community. He performed at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Apollo Theater in Harlem helping to raise nearly $3 million towards voter registration.
How easy to say we want to change the world. He did. And he worked hard to do it. He brought immeasurable joy to children and sought to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people all over the world. It is this fact that makes the end of the life story of this exemplary humanitarian such a tragedy.
Can one even imagine the heartache it would cause such a good person, who loved children so much, to be falsely accused of hurting a child? It is obvious this man loved children in the most honest and decent way. To label him a pedophile, when he worked so tirelessly to help children and bring joy into their lives, is an unbelievable cruelty. Of all the thousands of lives he touched in such a positive way it is appalling to realize that when the rotten few attempted to extort money from him, the police and Santa Barbara County District Attorney office not only did not protect him, but turned on him and charged him with crimes that must have been the ultimate insult and most hurtful imaginable to him crimes against children.
In November 2003, over 60 sheriff's deputies and representatives of the district attorney's office, in 19 vehicles, descended on Neverland to serve a search warrant. The allegations against Michael had been made by the most unsavory of people clearly in an attempt to extort money. These people had approached him and asked for his help. When he helped them they repaid his kindness by virtually destroying his life and reputation. I read on the Internet yesterday that one of his accusers has now recanted his story. If the others have a shred of decency they will do the same. The false charges filed against Michael Jackson are another form of the police brutality so prevalent in California today.
And here lies the tragedy. We are conditioned to believe that in this great country we are "innocent until proven guilty." The truth of the matter is you are considered guilty as soon as you are charged, you are considered guilty as soon as you are arrested, you are considered guilty as soon as you enter the jail, you are considered guilty when you go to trial, and you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
In Michael's case, he was innocent, and found not guilty in a court of law of 9 felony charges, yet in the brutal court of public opinion he has somehow been tried and convicted. He experienced the worst character assassination of any celebrity of our generation. He has been ridiculed and scorned. He was made a public spectacle. He was a very private person humiliated by a very public trial. He was called names in the media and by the public and even now as we mourn the loss of this incredible man, the word "molestation" appears in almost every article or story about him. What a disgrace.
For such a sensitive artist and beautiful person with a kind and gentle heart this alone might have been enough to kill him.
-Linda Grasse, Santa Ynez