The power of celebrity

Charlie Sheen does the Sunday Comics

Image by susie.c via Flickr

Charlie Sheen is famous. He says he’s a winner and claims he’s addicted to winning. Well, he’s definitely a celebrity; the winning part is highly debatable. According to Twitter, when Sheen first joined their service last week, he gained the biggest following in the shortest time of anybody in the nascent technology’s history. His celebrity — or perhaps better said — his infamy, has garnered a lot of attention. But what good has it done?

Celebrity has its perks, its challenges, but it also has opportunities. Celebrity is a kind of currency with value and like any currency it can be invested well or squandered. When coupled with wisdom, maturity and purpose, the currency of celebrity can change minds, change behaviors and provoke a whole host of actions that ultimately can change the world.

One of our own, JMU point guard and CAA top scorer Dawn Evans, is using her celebrity wisely and generously as a spokesperson for NephCure, an organization combating kidney disease through research. Dawn was diagnosed during her junior year with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, a rare untreatable disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering system.

We’ve talked about Dawn before on this blog, but I wanted you to know that this week her inspiring story is moving into an even bigger arena. Dawn is featured in the newest issue of Sports Illustrated that hits newstands on Thursday. With a circulation of more than three million readers by some reports, a lot more people will have the opportunity to “Sign on for Dawn” — leading to more funding and more research and more exposure for the mission of ending kidney disease.

Keep in mind as you flip through the pages of SI that Dawn is also a student and a senior taking classes and she’s playing basketball and maintaining friendships and fielding all the media attention. But she, unlike other celebrities, does so with grace and generosity because Dawn understands that celebrity is really about spending your life well.

And that, folks, is a real winner.

You can read much more about Dawn on the JMU website: http://www.jmu.edu/bethechange/stories/evansDawn.shtml

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About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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