excerpt of an article by Sean Jensen
Oftentimes, wrapped up in the busyness of one’s own life, a person’s perspective might need to be reset.
That happened constantly during Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s two-week trip last month to Kenya with the non-profit OneKid OneWorld , including on a visit to the small town of Wamba in the Rift Valley that had been without water for 2½ months. Locals are forced to travel long distances — often by walking — to get the precious resource, and many get sick from drinking contaminated water.
‘‘It cost us $300 to provide for water for a few months,’’ Cutler said before pausing for a moment.
‘‘After all the turmoil we go through here, everyone thinks we have so many problems. But to see what they have to deal with and to see how grateful they are to have water is just amazing.’’
‘‘I’ve never been to Africa,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘You see it on TV, but until you’re there and you see it with your own eyes, you have no idea.
‘‘It was an amazing experience to see what they have to go through. It puts a lot of things in perspective for you.’’
Toward the end of the 2010 season, Cutler talked to his girlfriend, Kristin Cavallari, about the trip to Kenya with OneKid OneWorld. But he didn’t get serious until he headed to Los Angeles after the Bears’ season ended in the NFC title game at Soldier Field.
Established in 2006, OneKid OneWorld is a modest but growing non-profit that’s proud to have funneled 95 percent of the $450,000 it has raised to benefit students and teachers in El Salvador and Kenya.
Cutler marveled at the spirit of the students he interacted with, and he marveled at the challenges they face in even going to class because of family obligations.
‘‘They have 1,000 reasons not to go to school,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘But you could tell how grateful they were for the opportunity.’’
Cutler and Cavallari encouraged students to pursue any career they desired, played assorted sports with them and painted classrooms and murals.
Cutler is torn about his approach toward community relations. Fiercely private, he would prefer to donate his money and his time without fanfare or media coverage, as he did when he handed out Christmas gifts to patients at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital in December.
But he also recognizes the importance of raising funds and awareness, particularly because he has the Jay Cutler Foundation, which is dedicated to underprivileged children and those suffering from diabetes.
‘‘I want to give back as much as possible,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘I understand you want to bring as much publicity as possible; that’s how you raise money. At the same time, you have to do it for the right reasons.”
OneKid OneWorld isn’t trying to attach itself to any and every celebrity, but it welcomes the support of Cavallari and Cutler.
‘For us, we do what we do,’’ said Tracy McCubbin, the co-executive director of OneKid OneWorld. ‘‘We will do it whether there are celebrities or not. But they were there, and I will start crying if I start to talk about what kind of impact they can have.”
credit - Sean Jensen @ suntimes.com
~Kelli at Hills Freak
~Kelli at Hills Freak