Revved up for a good cause
If you've ever organized an event, whether it was a Little League awards banquet at the local pizza joint or a swank class reunion, you know the details can be overwhelming. Once you get involved, it seems the whole world knows your phone number and you've got a bull's-eye on your back for criticism.
So here's a tip of the hat to local media personalities and companies that create, conduct, and participate in charitable endeavors.
If I rode a motorcycle, I'd be in Foxborough Sunday morning to take part in the second Fred's Run, a nearly 60-mile ride that leaves Rodman Ford at 11 a.m. with police escorts through back roads of 10 neighboring towns. If you've never seen a ride pass, the experience of watching thousands of motorcycles rumbling by falls under the heading of spectacle.
The ride, which raises money for two charities, is run by Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie. They both made enough money during their NFL careers to not have to deal with the hassles of event organizing. During football season, they keep busy with a number of local radio and TV gigs. But they've spent the past three months tending to this ride's details, not to mention creating commercials for Boston Harley Davidson.
Last year, 2,000 people participated in Fred's Run. "Off the charts for a first-year event," said DeOssie. This year? "We've got room for at least 6,000," he said. It'll be interesting to see the turnout, because there's been an area-wide buzz around the event.
Why do they do it? Because they believe in their causes: the Fallen Firefighters and Law Enforcement Memorial funds. Last year's ride raised $27,500 for the coffers, plus assorted additional donations.
Smerlas and DeOssie hardly are alone in making life around here more interesting. Some others:
My morning website of choice lately has been www.trekusa.org. It's where I follow the progress of a local band of aging runners, organized by Boston Marathon race director -- and onetime solo cross-country guy -- David McGillivray, in their relay run across the country to raise funds for local children's charities. This event somehow shows how small 3,361 miles can be and how we're all related. The team comes home via the Boston Marathon course Tuesday, finishing at Fenway Park during the pregame show before the Red Sox-Oakland A's game.
Local entertainment attorney (and regular radio and TV guest) Harry Manion gets full credit for his FRAXA Fragile X Syndrome benefit at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Wednesday night. He called in a decade of favors to drag in a wide spectrum of local media types to help out as emcees and guest auctioneers. He knows where to apply the pressure and get things done.
WWZN (1510 AM) talk show host Eddie Andelman always wins points with his Hot Dog Safari to benefit the Joey Fund. It wasn't always held at Suffolk Downs. What started out as a goofy excursion by a radio show to a hot dog stand in Connecticut has turned into a major charitable fund-raiser.
More examples: Tuesday, WEEI (850 AM) is sponsoring a Red Cross Blood Drive at Golf Masters, 218 Speen St., Natick (noon-6 p.m.). Details are on (weei.com). On June 1, Dale Arnold, Sean McDonough, Gino Cappelletti, Bill Walton, and former Globe managing editor Tom Mulvoy will be among the presenters at "The Tradition," the annual Sports Museum fund-raiser (sportsmuseum.org). Beyond all this, check your company bulletin board; you're almost guaranteed to find a flyer for a benefit road race or golf tournament posted there.
Usually we judge the media types by what they say. This time, it's by what they do.
CBS looking Sharpe
From the week's news:
Shannon Sharpe replaces Deion Sanders on CBS's "The NFL Today." Sharpe's likability quotient is off the charts. He's knowledgeable, glib, and humorous, and he promises to work at "winning an Emmy" the way he worked to win Super Bowls (he has three rings) in his 14-year NFL career. Sharpe has been touted as a TV natural for years, so the hiring is a no-brainer. He also gets a Smarty Award for retiring a year too early instead of a year too late. But will the show work as well without Sanders? He was a provoker of the first order. You knew if he wasn't already under the skin of Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason when the show started, he soon would get there.
NBC renews with Arena Football League, adds NHL, and acquires USA Network. A busy week for network boss Dick Ebersol, who has refused to pay big bucks for sports properties other than the Olympics. The AFL and NHL deals continue NBC's initiative toward revenue sharing, with no up-front rights fees and with network options to extend the deals. And USA Network, starting with the US weightlifting trials tomorrow at 10 a.m., becomes the home of Olympic Trials. The Saturday morning coverage will continue for 10 more weeks and expand to nine hours of live weeknight track and field trials action on July 9, 12, 15, and 16.
Major League Baseball returns to Fox for its regularly scheduled game of the week, five weeks after the bonus national coverage of the Sox-Yankees April 16. Thom Brennaman, who called Randy Johnson's perfect game Tuesday night for the Diamondbacks' network, will join Steve Lyons to call Yankees-Rangers (tomorrow, Channel 25, 4 p.m.). Pregame segments include Kevin Kennedy on the Dodgers, plus the obligatory update on A-Rod and Michael Young, his successor as Rangers shortstop.
Major League Lacrosse was launched the same year as the XFL and WUSA, and it is the only one of the three to survive and head into Year 4. The Boston Cannons, in fact, have succeeded the WUSA Breakers as Nickerson Field tenants after three seasons in Lowell. The Cannons meet the Long Island Lizards tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Nickerson in their season opener. Radio? Cannons factotum Jason Chandler will be back on the team's web radio network at bostoncannons.com.
The NHL's TV deals. ESPN likes having all four major sports and hates it when it can't make a property successful. Thus the decision to rework the scheduling (to Sundays and Wednesdays) and hold out for exclusive broadcast windows with several games to show regionally. Of NBC cutting a revenue-sharing deal because broadcast networks, which rely solely on advertising revenues as opposed to cable networks, which get both subscriber fees and ad revenue, ESPN president George Bodenheimer said, "The broadcast networks are in a time of transition. We're [ESPN] in position to be a good partner going forward." No kidding. That's the reason he was telling Congress that cable subscribers shouldn't have the right to choose their stations "a la carte."
NFL Europe has three weeks to go until World Bowl XII. The NFL Network will have Patriots backup quarterback Rohan Davey's Berlin Thunder (already in the championship game) vs. Frankfurt tomorrow at 1 p.m. On Sunday, Fox (Channel 25, 1 p.m.) has Rhein vs. Cologne on tape delay . . . NBC has the Home Depot track from Carson City, Calif., tomorrow (Channel 7, 4-6 p.m.). CSTV has the Heptagonals tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. . . . The WNBA taps off on ABC tomorrow (Channel 4, 4 p.m.) with the Phoenix Mercury at the Connecticut Sun . . . Was it something that he wrote? Retired Boston Herald media critic Jim Baker lost his cable signal last week right after Tim Duncan's last-second basket seemed to give San Antonio a Game 5 victory over the Lakers -- and just before Derek Fisher's winner for LA . . . The Monaco Grand Prix used to be an annual highlight of ABC's "Wide World of Sports." Now it's a beautiful but outdated course for the Formula One circuit, one that almost rules out passing -- er, "overtaking." Tomorrow's qualifying (Speed, 8 a.m.) may be more interesting than Sunday's race (Speed, 8 a.m.).
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