The Late George Michael Secretly Donated Millions To Charity

(PCM) 2016 obviously couldn’t leave quietly without tragically taking the life of yet another iconic celebrity. We were shocked and deeply saddened to hear about the death of musician George Michael on Christmas Day. While, Michael’s immediate cause of death has not yet been revealed, hundreds of tributes and stories have been pouring in from both his colleagues and fans across the globe.

It has now been revealed that Michael donated millions to various charities and individuals over the years, however he always asked to remain anonymous. Michael felt that giving to charity should not be a publicity stunt and his wish to keep his charitable endeavors a secret was kept until now.

The Guardian has published an article revealing just how much money Michael has donated throughout his career. Band Aid alone raised over 9 million for Ethiopian famine relief and Michael made the decision to donate all of his royalties from Wham!’s “Last Christmas” single to the same relief fund as well.

The Guardian also noted that money he received from his duet with Sir Elton John on the single “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was donated to both the children’s charity Rainbow House and the London AID’s hospice Lighthouse.

It was also mentioned that Michael once donated $15,000 for a woman’s desperately needed IVF treatment and another $25,000 to help a medical student pay off her outstanding debuts. That is just a few occurrences where Michael was known to give back. He also took the time to volunteer at a local area homeless shelter and once performed a private concert for the nurses who took care of his ailing mother when she was hospitalized.

It has been beautiful to watch these stories continue to pour out and certainly inspiring for those looking to give back a bit during the holiday season. Rest in peace George Michael and thanks for being so wonderful!

The post The Late George Michael Secretly Donated Millions To Charity also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Couple Mistakenly Receive Hundreds Of Letter To Santa And Reply To Each And Every One

(PCM) What began as an mailing accident six years ago has turned into a yearly tradition for Jim Glaub and his husband Dylan Parker. For some reason the couple mistakenly received hundreds of letters in the mail that were meant to be delivered to Santa Claus, but somehow ended up at their apartment on 22nd Street in New York City. For the past six years the letters have continued to be delivered every November and December and Glaub and Parker make sure that they take the time and effort to respond to each and every one.

The couple told US Weekly that the letters mostly come from low-income children who have simple requests such as food or clothing. Some even just ask for a better place to sleep. It is truly heartbreaking to learn what some of these children are enduring and yet they have still kept the belief in both Christmas and Santa Claus despite their living situations.

The volume of letters coming has reached a overwhelming numbers, so Glaub and Parker have reached out via Facebook and asked for volunteers around the world to help out with reading and responding to the letters. People can even send gifts if they wish. The Facebook group is called “Miracle on 22nd Street” and boasts well over 4,000 members. Glaub and Parker have since moved overseas to London, however they still plan to keep their 22nd Street address and will continue to answer the letters and keep the Christmas spirit alive for these children.

Parker said “It requires that we put ourselves second momentarily to help someone unknown to us and without the usual gratification of seeing the outcome or receiving thanks. The act of giving has to be enough.”

The post Couple Mistakenly Receive Hundreds Of Letter To Santa And Reply To Each And Every One also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Santa Grants A Final Wish For Dying Boy

(PCM) Break out the tissues because this story definitely brings out the feels. Tennessee Santa Claus impersonator Eric Schmitt-Matzen has shared his true heart-breaking experience of granting a dying young boys final Christmas wish. 

Schmitt-Matzen received a call from friend who is a nurse at a local area hospital near Knoxville who explained to him that she had a very sick five-year old boy whose final wish was a visit from Santa Claus. Schmitt-Matzen told his friend that he wanted to go home and change into his full Santa suit before visiting the hospital but was informed by his friend that there was no time and his Santa suspenders would be “good enough”. She then urged him to “Come right now!”

Schmitt-Matzen made it to the hospital in just fifteen minutes and met up with the young boys family outside of the ICU. The boys mothers had purchased at toy from the television series PAW Patrol and requested that Santa gift it to her son. 

Schmitt-Matzen explained to the boys family that if anyone felt they were going to get upset and cry that they needed to leave the room or else he would be unable to complete his job, as it would cause him to break-down as well.

Schmitt-Matzen ended up going in to see the boy alone and he later shared his very touching conversation with the boy with his family and the world. 

When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. I sat down on his bed and asked, “Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!”He looked up and said, “I am?” I said, “Sure!” I gave him the present. He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down. “They say I’m gonna die,” he told me. “How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?” I said, “Can you do me a big favor?” He said, “Sure!” “When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.” He said, “They will?” I said, “Sure!”

The young boy passed away right after his conversation with Santa and despite the tragedy of the situation it is wonderful that the boy was able to find some comfort in his conversation with Santa during his dying moments. We cannot even fathom the pain this young boys family must be going through to lose anyone, especially a five-year old child so close to Christmas. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time. 

 

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Mall Of America Hires First Black Santa Claus

black-santa

(PCM) America’s largest mall, the Mall Of America near Minneapolis, Minnesota is making history by hiring their first black Santa Claus as part of their Santa Experience. The mall announced the news that they have hired Larry Jefferson to take on the role of Santa Claus for select appearances this month. Co-owner of the malls Santa Experience, Landon Luther, says, “This is a long time coming. We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”

The mall feels that having a black Santa gives children who aren’t white to see a Santa Claus character that looks like them. The Santa Experience launched a nationwide search for a diverse Santa Claus. They discovered Jefferson at a Santa convention in Branson, Missouri, over the summer. He was the only black Santa among the 1,000 impersonators in attendance. Jefferson is originally from Irving, Texas and is a veteran Santa impersonator in his home state. 

He was more than happy to sign on for a four-day stint at the Mall Of America’s Santa Experience. He will be taking pictures and handing out candy canes to the children. Jefferson had some absolutely heartwarming sentiments to share about acting as the mall’s first black Santa. He said “I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys. Anybody can be Santa; it’s what’s in your heart.” Awww … so many feels this holiday season!  This may not seem like such a huge ordeal, but it is definitely a long overdue step in the right direction in the midst of our current political climate.  

In case you happen to wonder what Santa’s wish would be this holiday season according to the Star Tribune, he said he would love to be invited to the White House by President Obama and would also like to visit President-elect Donald Trump, too! 

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PCM Joins Chubby Checker and MFAC For The #TwistChallenge

chubbylifestyle(PCM) Pop Culture Madness is happy to join in the “Twist Away Childhood Cancer Challenge with Chubby Checker and Jurdy” – benefiting the non­profit organization, Mascots for a Cure. #TwistChallenge is a viral, online campaign challenging kids and adults to do The Twist with a friend, classmates, family members, co­workers or a mascot!

Especially a Mascot! Get your school or organization involved!

Participants are asked to twist for 36 seconds or less, as sadly, 36 children are diagnosed with cancer everyday in the U.S. This exciting campaign launches September 21st, on “National Twist Day” and will continue through 2016 and beyond. September also happens to be “National Childhood Cancer Awareness” month. Chubby is launching the campaign in videos with Jurdy the “Hero of Happy-­ness”.

Participating is as easy as 1-2­-3 (+4*)!

  1. Do The Twist and film it by yourself or with a group and post to your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube)
  2. Go to our website, MascotsForACure.org to pledge a donation
  3. Call out others to take the #TwistChallenge too! Challenge a rival mascot or team, another school or store location, a coach or player from your team, a CEO or managers of your organization, a rival company or organization or anyone else that you might have a great connection with and think would accept your Twist Challenge. That includes your friends, family and co­workers!
  4. *TELL THE WORLD!* on Facebook and other social sites, and include our hashtags: #TwistChallenge, #TwistAwayChildhoodCancer, #MFAC, #ChubbyChecker, #Jurdy, #NationalTwistDay

You can Twist alone, or with friends. If your friends don’t show up, challenge them!

We’ll help – we’ll be looking for the #TwistChallenge and our other hashtags, and we will be sharing them too!

facebook.com/mascotsforacure

facebook.com/PopCultureMadness

Chubby’s  Facebook page

jurdyMascots helping us with the Twist Challenge include Jurdy, The Philly Phanatic, Chuck E Cheese, A&W Root Beer mascot Rootie, Wally from the Boston Red Sox, Clark from the Chicago Cubs, the Oriole Bird, Screech from the Nationals, Bernie Brewer, Pittsburgh’s Jolly Rodger, Poe from the Baltimore Ravens, Thunderbug from Tampa Bay, Hugo the Hornet, YoUDee, Rocky Bluewinkle, Reggy the Party Dude, 76ers Franklin and MFAC’s own Sir Roland BraveHeart.

Jurdy is the hero of “happy-ness” at work, play and in schools & communities. Spreading happy-ness is just part of what Jurdy does, Jurdy is there to be a friend for anyone, especially children, having a hard time in life situations, feeling alone or offer some hope and positivity. Jurdy promotes smart choices, helping others, anti bullying, anti-drugs, anti-violence and making this world a better, safer kinder place.

Chubby Checker, the man who brought us The Twist, took some time to tell us about why he was so eager to join the #TwistChallenge…

chubbycheckertwistjpg“Years ago, back in 1965, Danny Thomas had St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. I did a charity tour for him and I was concerned and said, ‘Danny, why are you doing this?’ and he said, ‘Chubby, we have to leave something when we die and children being sick, especially with cancer, it disturbs me.’ He said ‘when I go on stage or go on TV and do whatever I do, all I can think about is these children, these young children that have cancer. So, I’ve lent my life to that, so when I leave here, it will be for them’.”

“After all those years it comes back up again. Here I am, many years later, and the #TwistChallenge comes up, and what is it? Childhood cancer. Who would not be sympathetic to such a cause, because children are the future? In 20 years, those 5 year olds and 7 year olds will be between 25 and 30, and I don’t know if we are going to find the cure for cancer, but we can fight it as much as we can, and if we can lend our time, and especially my fame, to such a thing, it’s the least that I can do. We are lending all of this to childhood cancer and on the 21st of September it’s going to be #TwistChallenge Day and it’s so easy for people to get on the dance floor as it represents good health!”

“We would like everyone to give some money on #TwistChallenge Day and don’t stop giving it, give it all the time, and help cancer leave this planet and children, the young children that suffer with cancer. My mother died from cancer, and my uncle died from cancer, and it’s a terrible thing that happens and there’s nothing you can do.”

Read our interview with The Legend

Read about The Twist

Schools we expect to hear from include: St. Joseph’s University, Duke, North Carolina, University of Delaware, Tulane, St. John’s, UMass, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Western Kentucky, Syracuse, James Madison, Tennessee, Auburn, Xavier, Wake Forest, Wilmington University, Georgian Court University, Drexel University, Rosemont, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State.

If you school isn’t on this list, JOIN IN!

Other groups and people who have signed on include: Alex’s Lemonade, St. Lucie Mets, Chattanooga Lookouts, Wilmington Blue Rocks, Carolina Mudcats, Charleston RiverDogs, Greenville Drive, Tampa Yankees, Columbia Fireflies, Portland Trailblazer Damien Lillard, Olympic Gold Medalist Ashton Eaton and Bronze Medalist Brianne Theisen-Eaton

Official Site

Donate

About Mascots For A Cure
MFAC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children and their families battling cancer. Through its passion, relentless pursuit of its goals, and the power of mascots, it fosters hope, laughter, joy, positive memories and love to support children and their families affected worldwide. Sir Roland Braveheart is MFAC’s official mascot. For more information, visit www.mascotsforacure.org.

About Chubby Checker
Born in rural Spring Gully, S.C., and raised in Philadelphia, Pa., Chubby Checker rose to national prominence in 1959 with his debut record, “The Class,” which hit No. 34 on the Billboard pop chart when Checker was just 17. By the time he was 18 years old, his second hit single, “The Twist,” had skyrocketed to # 1. Nearly five decades later, in 2008, Billboard magazine would name “The Twist” the No. 1 song of the Billboard Hot 100’s first 50 years.
Chubby Checker’s  Facebook page.

About Jurdy®
Jurdy®, the “Hero of Happy-ness,” is an animated and mascot character created by Jenifer Jurden, CEO of SHOUT b cause, LLC (SBC). SBC helps companies and organizations raise awareness and effectively drive home positive messaging to their target audiences. Leading the charge through rallies and marketing communications is Jurdy®, a powerful tool in teaching children from all backgrounds how to make good choices in life. For more information, visit www.jurdy.com.

About Pop Culture Madness
The Pop Culture Madness network of websites have been gathering and sharing news and trivial information about Popular Culture and Pop Music since 1999.

The post PCM Joins Chubby Checker and MFAC For The #TwistChallenge also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Chubby Checker Talks 50 Years Of The Twist and the #TwistChallenge

chubbycheckertwistjpg(PCM) On Saturday, August 6, 1960, Dick Clark presented Chubby Checker and The Twist and the dance floor changed forever. In addition to revolutionizing the way that people would dance and spawning countless renditions of twisting, Chubby Checker’s The Twist still currently holds the title of being the number one song of all time.

The Twist changed the way we dance, and much of popular culture as we know it today!

September 21 celebrates National Twist Day. To further the celebration Chubby Checker has partnered up with Mascots For A Cure, a very special non-profit, to launch the #TwistChallenge.  The challenge will be in a similar vein to the ice bucket challenge and raise funds and awareness to twist away childhood cancer through challenges, videos, social and traditional media.

We are challenging everyone to do The Twist and post their images and video on their social media accounts using the hashtag #TwistChallenge and of course support the children and their families by donating to this wonderful cause to help bring an end to childhood cancer once and for all. The first Mascots helping us with the Twist Challenge include Jurdy (the Hero of Happy-ness), The Philly Phanatic, Wally from the Boston Red Sox, Clark from the Chicago Cubs, the Oriole Bird, Screech from the Nationals, Bernie Brewer, Pittsburgh’s Jolly Rodger, Poe from the Baltimore Ravens, Thunderbug from Tampa Bay, Hugo the Hornet, YoUDee, Rocky Bluewinkle, 76ers Franklin and MFAC’s own Sir Roland BraveHeart.

We had a chance to catch up with the legendary Chubby Checker to discuss the #TwistChallenge, over 50 years of twisting, his legacy and more.

When asked about how he became involved with Mascots For A Cure and the idea for the #TwistChallenge Chubby tells us “My publicist Shelly Field was contacted by Mascots For A Cure and they said they wanted to use The Twist and told her the idea for the #TwistChallenge. She said ‘Let’s talk to Chubby about it’ and I thought it was a great idea. It’s all about childhood cancer and children having cancer. That’s very serious stuff.”

“Years ago, back in 1965, I believe. Danny Thomas, who was alive then, and he had St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. I did a charity tour for him and I was concerned and said ‘Danny, why are you doing this?’ and he says ‘Chubby, we have to leave something when we die and children being sick, especially with cancer, it disturbs me.’ He said ‘when I go on stage or go on TV and do whatever I do all I can think about is these children, these young children that have cancer. So, I’ve lent my life to that, so when I leave here it will be for them’.”

“Usually I’m not involved with charity that much, I give to charity all the time, but to get involved, this is very serious stuff. When you see a young child and I was in the hospital several years ago when I saw a kid and this guy, his kid had cancer, and I used to work at a chicken market on 9th St. and while I was working there for three or four years, this young boy every year or so, he would come with his father and he would have a bandage wrapped around his head because he had some brain tumors that were cancerous. They were able to raise 220 million dollars for ALS when they were throwing water on everybody with the #IceBucketChallenge and I hope we are just as successful with raising funds and awareness with the #TwistChallenge as well.”chubby01We were curious to know if Chubby ever expected The Twist to take off the way that it did spawning countless twist songs and multiple dance crazes all over the world. He revealed, “We never saw it coming. I remember I didn’t even want to do the song. We did the fourth cut and there was a lyric saying ‘Daddy’s sleeping and Mama ain’t around’ and Dave Apple who produced the song said ‘Chubby, there’s a flat note on ‘Daddy’s sleeping’  and I said ‘Dave, it’s almost time to graduate high school, my grades are terrible. I’m going to go home and try to catch up, Dave, they’ll never know.’ (laughs)  Little did I know!

Chubby told us about his newly remixed and remastered version of The Twist saying “We went in the studio and we took the songs we recorded in 1970, ’71, ’72 and ’73 and what we did was we went and remastered every bit of it. In other words, we took each track that we had, some of which were recorded in the 1960’s and on maybe only ten or twelve tracks and then ten years later we went in the studio and recorded it again and the reason I did that was because the original ones were not being released and we wanted to public to have the songs, so we went in and recorded them again.”

“This time we had 35 or 40 tracks. We didn’t know that in the future we could take Chubby’s voice and just take his voice and the other tracks that were from 1974 and put new musicians in the back and have a whole new song (laughs). We didn’t do that, but we just made it… better.  It sounds the same but it just sounds better. It records, plays and acts with all the new music and new technology that is out here.”

“We formatted The Twist to match the new equipment that you now here the music on the radio. It’s just better and it jumps out at you. It’s better than the other one, sounds the same… but better.”chubby04We asked Chubby to reminiscence a bit and take us through what it was like getting that call to perform on the show.  He reveals with a laugh, “We didn’t know. Bandstand was Bandstand and everybody loved it. At 3:30pm in the afternoon there was no one on the streets because they were watching Bandstand. I don’t think people realized that when Chubby Checker came on American Bandstand, that Bandstand changed that day. It was never going to be the same again because dancing changed on that show.”

“But to answer your question, when I was on American Bandstand what was it like, I was scared to death, I was nervous, I was in the number one spot in the world and I didn’t know at that time that I was going to magnify the number one show in the world into MTV and everything else. We didn’t know that, but we did that. I talk about it and I’m glad you have this and you can record it because long after I’m gone out of here, someone can play this and go back to the roots of what the dance floor became because of Chubby Checker started the fateful day on American Bandstand. Everybody was looking, everybody was there, the whole world was watching, and dancing was transformed that day.”

Chubby described his introduction to the world, and how Ernest Evans, the man, became Chubby Checker, The Legend. A legend who could refer to himself in the third person without skipping a beat. “The minute Chubby came on Bandstand, Dick Clark was already a big star, but when Chubby Checker came on Bandstand, and I want people to listen to this, as I have a few people out there who are negative Chubby Checkers, but Dick Clark was already a big star when Chubby Checker came on American Bandstand and I say this and I quote ‘When Chubby Checker came on American Bandstand, Dick Clark became a super monster star’  and Bandstand became something it never was before because dancing changed forever.”chubby03It wasn’t just the dance itself that made The Twist a hit… there was something else, and Chubby told me the secret… “I’m looking at the girl, the girl’s looking at me and we’re not touching, but we’re doing something. We’re exploring our sexuality while being fully dressed, what’s more hotter than that?”

We tell Chubby just how excited we are to participate in the #TwistChallenge and urge everyone to participate to support this wonderful cause. Chubby reminds us “Don’t be thinking about The Twist, you be thinking about those kids that have cancer. That’s what it’s all about. You think about those children out there that have cancer and their families and their futures. The futures of these children who have been touched by this dreadful, dreadful disease and pray for them. Ask God to put his hands upon these children and heal them.”

Chubby was a mix of warmth and confidence in our conversation. It’s been said that ‘it ain’t bragging if you can pull it off” and Chubby pulled it off. He changed the world in both music and popular culture. 50-odd years after reaching the number one spot on the Billboard Pop and Dance charts, the world is still twisting. The Twist has been the biggest “#1 Song” according to Billboard magazine for 55 years. He can stand tall, and dance with confidence, and he can brag if he wants to. He’s one of a very small number of people who made the world a more fun and better place.chubby02Chubby is also true road warrior and we were curious what some of his plans were for the future. He tells us, “We’re all over the place. We’re going to cruise in Australia and then we are moving around out to Las Vegas and we are going to be in Kansas and guess where we are going to be on the 16th of November? Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in Branson, Missouri. How about that? (laughs)

“I can never shake that man. He’ll be with me forever. His wife gave me the name Checker, she put Checker on the Chubby, so I’m going to be with this guy forever and ever and my birthday is on the 3rd of October and we’ll be in Bilouxi, Mississippi on the 1st of October and the 8th and 9th we’re going to be in California at some of the casinos there.”

“Galveston, Texas is on October 15th and we are even visiting Newbury, South Carolina, the closest I can get to where I was born and on the 25th of October we’re going to be in The Villages in Florida. We are moving around and everything is wonderful. I’ve got my band with me and we’ve got the bus, but you know something Kristyn, I’m a happy guy, everything’s cool. Remember to think about those kids, I love you sweetheart!”

Chubby Checker called me ‘sweetheart!’ :swoon::

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