Modern Dr. King - Oprah Winfrey
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Oprah Winfrey helps young fundraiser raise money for cancer research

Oprah Winfrey helps young fundraiser raise money for cancer research | Modern Dr. King - Oprah Winfrey |
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It's been said anything Oprah touches turns to gold.

A 7-year-old from Plainfield is hoping Winfrey will have the same effect on her fundraising project.

Hannah Durante is raising money for A Walk in the Park, an event held by Six Flags and Cure Kids Cancer at parks across the country.

The event raises money for pediatric cancer research.

Hannah was born with one kidney, which necessitates regular checkups at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said her mother Amy Durante.

Hannah is doing fine. But some other children they met at the hospital weren't doing as well, Amy said.

"Every time we'd go, I was in tears. It just breaks my heart to see the other kids," Amy said.

They wracked their brains thinking of ways to help the less-fortunate youngsters. Last year, they discovered A Walk in the Park, and participated at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.

They decided to do it again this year. Besides the sponsor-gathering e-mail sent to friends and family, Amy decided to send a request to Oprah Winfrey.

She continued calling and e-mailing Oprah, her publicist and other employees of Harpo Productions until Friday, when a member of Oprah's staff called her back.

"He said (Oprah) was inspired. She couldn't believe a 7-year-old was doing this," Amy said. "Persistence totally pays off. It doesn't matter if she's a celebrity. She lives in Chicago. She's aware. I know she does good things."

Hannah's goal was to raise $1,300. Thanks to a financial boost from Oprah Winfrey, who matched the $1,240 Hannah had raised by that point, the total was $2,935.34 as of Wednesday afternoon.

Oprah even posted a message on Hannah's fundraising Web page at "Hannah, You have inspired everyone to make a difference. Continue!"

Oprah's comment helped draw attention to Hannah's fundraising team, Team Friends, Amy said. There are comments on her Web page from people the Durantes don't even know.

But the Durantes aren't just sitting back, letting Oprah's clout pull in the donations.

They will sell $1 hot dogs at Strack & Van Til, at Route 59 and Caton Farm Road in Joliet, from noon to 5 p.m. Friday.

The store donated the hot dogs, and all the proceeds will go toward Cure Kids Cancer.

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Oprah Winfrey helps raise thousands for Bennett College

Oprah Winfrey helps raise thousands for Bennett College | Modern Dr. King - Oprah Winfrey |
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After months of buildup, media icon Oprah Winfrey accomplished what many people believed she would do on October 20—help raise thousands of dollars for Bennett College for Women.


Ms. Winfrey, best recognized for her Emmy Award-winning television show, was the focal point of the benefit gala that evening at the Grandover Resort.

The event was designed to raise funds for the academic institution’s Revitalizing Bennett Campaign that plans to raise $50 million by 2007.

"This is a joy," said Bennett President Johnnetta Cole.

The event, according to Bennett’s executive assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement, Wanda Mobley, raised approximately $500,000 from ticket sales and sponsorships.

"Your presence here tonight ensures that we will indeed be able to hold Bennett’s doors open for many, many, many years to come," Dr. Arthur Affleck, Bennett’s vice president for institutional advancement, told the audience of approximately 830 people, who paid $250, $500 and $1,000 per seat. So far, the school has raised approximately $31 million for their campaign.

Originally, Ms. Winfrey said that she wanted to visit Bennett to speak with just the students of the private historically Black women’s institution. But after she heard that the gala was a fundraiser, she explained that she was compelled to lend a hand to the Bennett Belles.

"I only do that when I think it really matters," she said about giving speeches, due to her hectic schedule. "And I think Bennett really matters."

Ms. Winfrey did visit the campus that day to speak with students prior to the gala that evening.

"We had very interesting talks about music and our culture, and what the music and our culture is saying to young women," she said about the discussion that day, which focused on the power of words in music and television. "And when you allow yourself to be called a b--- and a wh---, and dance to the beat of it, consciously and unconsciously it says to you that you are less than."

Ms. Winfrey explained how she learned the strength of words from her close friend, esteemed poet, author and educator, Dr. Maya Angelou.



Other notable names in attendance included U.S. Congressman Mel Watt; Judge Maybelline Ephraim, from the television show, "Divorce Court," and a welcomed surprise from acclaimed gospel singer Shirley Caesar who sang a moving gospel hymn before Ms. Winfrey spoke to the audience.


Ms. Winfrey’s comments centered on encouraging people who have succeeded in life to give back to those in need.

"You cannot continue to move forward in your life unless you’re willing to give back what you have been given," she said. "It is a responsibility. It is our charge. It is our calling."

One of the most rewarding accomplishments Ms. Winfrey says she has done pertains to the construction of a multi-million dollar all-girls academy in Johannesburg, South Africa—suitably named the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

What began as an agreement with former South African President Nelson Mandela to build a $10 million facility for underprivileged girls has become a $40 million-and- counting project.

She says the school will be the finest of its kind on the continent of Africa: sitting on 52 acres of land and consisting of 28 buildings, which includes a gym, library, wellness center, six dormitories, and an auditorium for grades seven through 12. When the all-female school is completed in 2007, it will provide accommodations for up to 450 students.

As a child who lived with a single mother on welfare, to become the world’s first Black female billionaire, Ms. Winfrey explained how she relates to poor, underprivileged girls in Africa, whom she says many may see as being insignificant to society.

"They said to me from the very beginning, when I started working with their architects, ‘These girls come from huts. They come from nothing. Why do you need to do all of this?’" Ms. Winfrey recalled. "I do all of this because I am these girls."

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Oprah opens second school in South Africa

Oprah opens second school in South Africa | Modern Dr. King - Oprah Winfrey |
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SHAYAMOYA, South Africa — Oprah Winfrey opened her second school for poor South African youth Friday, an innovative, environmentally friendly institution she hopes will be a model for public education.

The Seven Fountains Primary School was funded by Oprah's Angel Network, a public charity that supports organizations and projects focused on education and literacy.

"The Seven Fountains School is an example of what schools in South Africa can become," Winfrey said at the formal dedication of the school outside the remote town of Kokstad in eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.

Dressed casually in a cream top and white pants, the talk show host danced and sang with teachers and children who lauded her with cries of "Long live Oprah, long live!"

Winfrey first visited the school in 2002 when it was located on a farm, bringing gifts, clothing, books and teacher-training materials for its 1,000 students and staff.

The school was later forced to move from the farm and relocated to a building with no windows, little electricity and running water, and only four toilets.

During a follow-up visit in 2004, the Angel Network committed itself to building a new school.

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