He uses a bicycle instead of driving a car that would pollute the environment. He takes commercial airplanes and lives modestly. He is the youngest writer to have worked for the legendary comedian and humanitarian (his story comes later this week) Bob Hope and is the comic genius behind such movies as Evan Almighty, Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, and others. He has taught in colleges in California, Colorado, and Tennessee. And once upon a time, he almost died and discovered death was no laughing matter.
“Facing my own death brought a sense of clarity and purpose,” Tom Shadyac told Oprah Winfrey once in an interview. “If I was, indeed, going to die, I asked myself: What did I was to say before I went? It became very simple and very clear. I wanted to tell people what I had come to know. And what I had come to know is that the world I was living in was a lie.” Shadyac’s recuperation included starting a foundation, the Foundation for I AM. “Ultimately, the goal of the Foundation for I AM is to help usher in a more loving, kind, compassionate, and equitable world for all.”
The mission of the Foundation for I Am is quite simple: “The specific purpose of this corporation is to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those impoverished in our society. We will use our resources to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the sick, and help heal the natural world; we will also serve those in spiritual need, those suffering from a different kind of poverty, a poverty of perspective and purpose, through educational programs and media that will foster a dialogue around the ideals of love, compassion, kindness and empathy. In addition, we will financially support existing non-profits whose work is kindred with the Foundation’s principles.”
Some of the organizations and missions supported include St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital which treats and seeks cures and prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases without charging parents for such services. The Haven at First and Market Streets is a community service center for the homeless and very poor in Central Virginia. The International Charity Invisible Children seeks to end the war in Uganda and the abduction of children for use as child soldiers. The mission of The MY HERO Project is to use media, art and technology to celebrate the best of humanity one story at a time.
By integrating the Fine Arts and science with the needs of Mankind, Shadyac offers us all a chance to redefine who we are and the opportunity to discover who each of us really is. He reminds us that we can redefine who we are every day by the hope we live and give to others.
We don’t need a big screen or even an art gallery to connect with the artistic side of our souls. We can become donors for St Jude’s or other charities via the Internet or local contributions. What the Foundation for I Am really does is remind us we are all connected and how we honor those connections defines that “I am”. What do you want the definition of your life to be? How are you going to make it happen?