David Wallliams swimming past my brother's house this past weekend for Sport Relief
David Walliams, actor and comedian best known for the BBC show "Little Britain" (and Little Britain USA on HBO) swam the length of the Thames, about 135 miles total, for the British charity Sport Relief. The swim took him 8 days to complete. He said he was in tremendous pain and he and was warned by the health authorities he'd be swimming through sewage. Sure 'nuff, on day 3 it resulted in a bad case of "Thames Tummy" and yet kept calm and carried on (get it? get it?) He raised over $2 million.
Sport Relief is associated with Comic Relief (which if you're American of a certain age you may be having flashbacks of Whoopie Goldberg and Billy Crystal doing jokes about homelessness in acid wash jeans) and BBC Sport. Sport Relief raises millions and millions for causes in the UK including: bringing sports into lower income communities, mental health treatment, support for domestic abuse and sexual abuse survivors as well as worldwide funding schools for girls, clean water programs and free trade initiatives.
Good stuff. Why don't we have anything like this in the States? The NFL has charities as does the NBA but there is no national, all sport, all inclusive charity which also brings in entertainment. Phelps vs Shaq was great television. Millions watched and millions of dollars could have been raised. In America we're very good at bringing everyone together after national emergencies and global tragedies. What I love about this is it's a national movement. People hang red noses on their doors, school children hold "sport days," there's a mile walk, there's usually a telethon of sorts with great clips like these:
James Corden (aka "Smithy") and Beckham
James Corden and Tom Daley
We want to grow the sport? I think this is a great way to do it. Everybody wins. This country can use a little "feel good" about now. I know Mel Stewart agrees with me. He's written about this on his blog, too. http://www.goldmedalmel.typepad.com/mel/2011/09/the-uk-knows-how-to-entertain-we-love-their-films-and-short-run-shows-in-the-states-we-gobble-them-up-and-reharsh-winners.html In the meantime, expect to see David Walliams be given an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth soon. Well done. If you're interested in learning more about Sport Relief you can find it here http://www.sportrelief.com/#tab3 and big thanks to my brother, Gavin, for letting me use his picture.