Lend a helping hand


Okay, okay. I know my last entry was a little bit of a downer, but I felt it was important to write down. I still think of that poor kid everyday and have made several phone calls trying to figure out a way to help, but thus far, I haven't come up with anything. It seems that it's really hard for any relief agency to pinpoint a particular kid in a country where so many kids need help.

Speaking of kids needing help, my good friends the Hamad family have seen their bad luck get even worse. Their oldest son Mahmoud passed away last year after a long battle with Muscular Dystrophy and two of the families other children suffer from the disease as well. Despite this, the family has always remained positive and are a major part of the Muscular Dystrophy Association family, doing their best to raise money and create awareness about the terrible series of neuromuscular diseases that fall under the "Muscular Dystrophy" title. The entire family loves WWE, and I have been privileged to know them for several years, even having the honor of dining at their home on the last day of Ramadan. I've been very lucky in the sense that through the generosity of wrestling fans, I've been able to celebrate the traditions of many different cultures. I've had Chanukah dinner at Stevie Wexler's house, Ramadan at the Hamad's and of course, celebrate Christmas just about every other day in the Foley family Christmas room. If there is a New York family that celebrates Kwanza, let me know. It'd like to experience that as well. Seriously.

Last Tuesday, I received a call from Eddie Hamad. Tuesday was the night of MDA's annual "Muscle Team" event, where members of most of New York's pro sport teams, and various other celebrities of various degrees of fame gather to raise money for MDA. Last year, close to $1 million was raised. This year, MDA hoped to top the million mark.

I was really excited about the night. During the past five years that I've been part if the team, I've gotten to know some of the kids pretty well, and have gotten to know some of the professional sports top stars like Tiki Barber of the Giants and Richard Jefferson of the Nets as well. Last year, I even got a chance to meet my childhood crush, Olympic Gold Medalist Dorothy Hamill. Man, I had Dorothy pictures everywhere. On my wall, in my little ten year old boy wallet, in my desk.

While I was addressing the crowd last year, I even found the courage to admit in front of nearly 1,000 witnesses that I'd had a thing for Dorothy for almost 30 years. And to my surprise, she wasn't even mortified. She thought it was sweet. She gave me a hug. She gave me her e-mail address. She kissed me good night. Alright, I made up that last part.

Last Monday, the day before the Muscle Team event, while doing a small scene for a really cool movie, "Animorph," I received a call from MDA, asking me if I'd "mind" doing the summer camp auction with Dorothy Hamill. Mind? Mind? Not only wouldn't I mind, I'd be absolutely delighted, I told them.

"Are you sure it's okay with Dorothy?" I asked, knowing full well that the prestige associated with the term, "pro wrestler" can vary dramatically from one situation to another, or from one person to another. "Of course its okay," I was assured. "Dorothy thinks your sweet."

I felt like Rudolph after his first flirtation with Clarice, the hot reindeer with the long lashes in the Rakin/Bass classic. The one where he goes, "I'm cute, I'm cute, she thinks I'm cute." Well that was me, substituting of course for the word "sweet" for "cute." Of course I wasn't flying through the air or actually yelling the verbiage, but I think you get the picture.

Maybe someday, when I'm not ultimately writing about something as sad as the Hamad family situation, I'll get into more detail about Dorothy, Clarice, or any other number of other animated characters that I‘ve had feelings for. But I would like people to understand that I was really feeling good at the time of Eddie Hamad's phone call. "Hey Eddie, how are you," I said. "Not too good," he replied. By the tone of his voice I thought something had happened to Kareem, his oldest son, whose dream, he had told me, was simply to have a bedroom to hang his WWE and Jets stuff on the walls, instead of the dining room he slept in when I was in their home. Life can be real tough on kids in wheelchairs in rented homes. It wasn't Kareem, thank God. It was their home. It was gone. Burned beyond repair, due to a problem in the wiring. The whole family was in a hotel, most of their possessions destroyed.

I got a hug from Dorothy, who alas, had come to the event with her boyfriend. But the hug, as nice as it was, was just not the same as it would have been on a different evening. And evening that was accompanied by such sadness.

It was actually Dorothy's boyfriend, a very nice guy who has been the Phantom in "The Phantom of the Opera" some 2,000 times, who suggested contacting the "Extreme Makeover" show. I contacted a woman I know a Buena Vista Productions, thinking that she would know who to reach out to. She said she'd be glad to help and that the family seemed like ideal candidates. The potential sticking point, I later learned, stems from the fact that the Hamad's don't own a home, they were only renters. Which obviously doesn't make their situation any less dire, but does pose a problem for a show that improves people's existing homes.

The solution may well lie in the hearts of strangers. A fund is being established for the family, and a special fundraising event is being planned for the Staten Island area. I plan on being part of it, as I hope a couple other well-known personalities will as well.

So, if you live in the New York area, and would like to help a family out, while at the same time getting a chance to ask the hardcore legend if it really hurt when the Undertaker threw him off the cage, here's your chance. Or if you'd like to send a check for any amount: $5, $10, $20, please do. Every little bit counts. Just like every phone call for Stacy Kiebler counts. Wow, was that a clumsy segue.

But, I needed to write about Stacy. Which I will do, in detail in next week's entry. Don't worry, it's all good. I will also hopefully have more information on how people can help out the Homed family.

I promise next week's entry won't be a downer. How could it be? It's about Stacy.

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