Bill Clinton’s annual Clinton Global Initiative attracted a cast of political, celebrity, and nonprofit all-stars, bringing a flood of new commitments to push for real, fast change. Call-outs to some of the lesser celebrities:
John Calipari (Kentucky basketball coach) – John Calipari likes to see action on and off the court. “I don’t like getting involved where there’s no scoreboard,” he said. At the “Turning Inspiration Into Action” breakout meeting, he talked about seeing the first photos emerging from the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and leaping into action with his team, raising $1 million in one day soon after. It wasn’t something to mull over, he stressed. “People were dying. What we had to do was act now. I went to Haiti, and, I’ll be honest with you, we kept people alive.”
Loretta Claiborne (six-time gold medalist at the Special Olympics) – “I had a mother, and she was told to institutionalize me. To put me in an institution, and that would be the end of it,” Loretta Claiborne, a six-time gold medalist at the Special Olympics, told the audience at CGI’s opening plenary. “Still today, around the globe, people with intellectual disabilities such as I are still being housed in warehouses and institutions.” Claiborne, who was born partially blind and experienced delays in walking and speech development, made a touching speech leading to the announcement of a $12 million donation by philanthropist Tom Golisano to expand the Special Olympics’ health services.
The Awards Ceremony – Sometimes politicians, CEOs, and otherwise stiff-lipped professionals need to let loose too. At the Global awards ceremony, musical artists set the crowd on fire, especially Benin singer Angelique Kidjo. Belting out rhythmic African songs, Kidjo climbed down from the stage to get the audience singing. Sister Rosemary, a Ugandan nun at President Clinton’s table, waved her hands over her head, as Clinton sang along. At one point Kidjo passed the microphone to Mexican billionaire businessman Carlos Slim, who gave the ceremony a taste of his vocal cords. Not bad.