Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week, we speak with singer-songwriter Danny Wood of New Kids On The Block. He and other members of the pop group have done charity work in the past, including for the Make a Wish Foundation and fundraising telethons for cerebral palsy research. Their newest charitable project is raising funds to help fight breast cancer.
Wood lost his mother, Elizabeth "Betty" Wood, to breast cancer in September 1999. In her memory, Wood and his fellow bandmates sold special-edition tank tops during their tour, “On The Block.” They raised more than $300,000 for Susan G. Komen For The Cure, an organization whose mission is to cure breast cancer. Wood also set up The Betty Wood Breast Cancer Foundation's a “Remember Betty” campaign to raise money for breast cancer research and to make sure the legacy of his mother lives on.
Question: What inspired you to get involved with breast cancer research and awareness?
Wood: My mother passed away from it in 1999 so I learned a lot from that. Watching her struggle with it made it a very personal thing and it took me years to accept it. Now through doing this and the group getting back together, it kind of gave me more of a reason why she was taken, because now her name is going to live on forever. It feels really really good. It’s great because my daughters are 10 and 11 years old, and now they’re going to have very vivid memories of her even though they were babies when she passed away.
Q: What was your mother’s name?
Wood: Elizabeth Wood — but everyone called her Betty.
Q: What have you done to advocate for this cause?
Wood: I partnered up with the Komen Foundation and since the beginning of our tour last September, we’ve been selling tank tops. In the middle of May, we presented them with a check for over $200,000 and we’ve raised over another $100,000 since then.
Q: Who came up with the idea to sell these tank tops to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation?
Wood: Well, I went to the guys in the very beginning when we were rehearsing for the tour and said I have an idea, I want to see what you guys think. Everyone was completely for it because, I mean, they were all very close to her too.
Q: And what made you choose Susan G. Komen as the beneficiary for these donations?
Wood: My mother had talked about the foundation and she had talked about doing some of the [fundraising] walks and stuff but she just wasn’t physically able to do it. I had that memory of her talking about it. Also, I had known other people who have done the walks. I did some research on the company and 87 cents of every dollar goes to research, so it just makes sense to go with them.
Q: What has been the most rewarding experience for you working with the organization?
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Wood: Honestly, it keeps my mother’s name alive. And to see my daughters and my sons participate — they’re going do a couple walks with me. You know, more for them then for myself but my whole family — my sisters and my brother and my dad. When I had my dad tell me he’s very proud of me with everything I’ve done to keep her name alive — you know those kind of things mean the most to me.
Q: How has your career impacted the way you feel about charity work in general?
Wood: Even when we were young kids, the first time around, we were always doing charity work. We did the Say No To Drugs Campaign, we always did the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the cerebral palsy telethons. So, it was built into us through the way we were raised to always give back. But this was a much bigger thing. It started out as a small idea and now its turned into a bunch of things that I’m going to do in the future, so it’s more important for me actually to do this than the stuff I do with the group.
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