For nearly 20 years, Mary Hart has been juggling two jobs; by day she anchors “Entertainment Tonight,” while off “ET’s” time clock she spends her time drumming up dollars for a gang of children’s charities.
Hart sits on the board of directors of the National Childhood Cancer Foundation (NCCF); she holds status as an ambassador for Childhelp USA; what’s more, her singing voice can be heard on an album of lullabies, crafted to benefit the March of Dimes.
Her philanthropic journey does not end with Childhelp, just as it did not begin with the NCCF; rather, the TV personality’s charitable nature surfaced in the early 1980s — as her “ET” career was getting off the ground — with an introduction to the Utah-based nonprofit, Children’s Miracle Network.
The org, which to this day remains one of Hart’s top priorities, is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals — and 14 million kids — throughout North America. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network has gathered $1.8 billion for the cause.
Her role as a CMN spokesperson is a job Hart holds close. “These kids are my inspiration, she says. “No matter how sick they are, they put up a good front. So many of them remain brave, hopeful and cheerful, no matter what ails them. Their determination to get well actually feeds my soul.”
And many of the children associated with CMN do in fact get better. Kids with the most unimaginable ailments, such as cancer, heart defects, diabetes, AIDS and muscular dystrophy, have had their pain eased and lives extended through the raised funds — 208 million bucks was tallied in 2000 alone.
Despite her triumphs as a voice for child health care, Hart wants to make one thing clear, this job will never end.
“This task is a black hole,” she tells Daily Variety. “Medical research and technology is endlessly costly. We are making inroads everyday, and will continue to do so, but the money disappears and we will always need to raise more.”
However, while Hart has resigned herself to the fact that she, along with her causes, has a long road ahead, the personal satisfaction was, and remains, an immediate force in her daily life.
“I appreciate my blessings everyday,” she says. “I have a job, and from that job comes the ability for me to use my celebrity for good causes. There are so many people who struggle and have no control over their health. To help in the effort, well there is nothing more gratifying.”