New York —There are few more hearing care advocates able to raise national awareness—and funds—for a hearing loss charity than Oscar winner and deaf actress Marlee Matlin. Matlin proved her star power with her recent appearance on NBC’s reality show, The Celebrity Apprentice.
On the April 3 episode, Matlin led a team of female celebrity apprentices to raise $986,000 for the Starkey Hearing Foundation. The total raised was increased to $1 million by the show’s host, Donald Trump.
For readers unfamiliar with the show, each season, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump assembles an all-star cast of celebrities and then enlists them as his “apprentices.”
On each episode, Trump gives the pampered celebrities odd tasks that will ultimately raise money for the celebrity’s chosen charity. At the end of the episode, the celebrity who performs their task poorly is assessed by Trump and subsequently “fired,” meaning that they must leave the show.
Before the April 3 episode, Matlin and her female celebrity team members had lost three prior tasks to the celebrity men’s team, which included wild card Gary Busey and rock star Meat Loaf. For the April 3 challenge, Trump asked the teams to create original artwork for an auction at their own gallery event.
With her sign-language interpreter by her side, Matlin aggressively stepped up to be the women’s “project manager,” risking failure and the possibility of being “fired” at the end of the episode. However, Matlin was driven by the cause and the knowledge that she had many celebrity philanthropist friends who would support her art auction.
Matlin enlisted her fellow celebrity cast member La Toya Jackson to create an item honoring her late brother, Michael. Jackson’s artistically signed T-shirt, which included a dedication to her brother, ultimately sold for $99,000 alone. With that prize and the help of fellow celebrities, Matlin’s team raised a total of $986,000 for the Starkey Foundation—a record for the show.
The men’s team, led by Busey, Meat Loaf, and Richard Hatch, raised $600,000, a huge amount, but far short of Matlin’s total. Hatch, the project manager, was ultimately “fired,” leaving the show.
Later, with Trump praising her leadership, Matlin was given a chance to describe the Foundation and its work donating hearing aids to children around the world. As a result of the team’s hard work and show record, Trump personally topped off Matlin’s team donation to $1 million for Starkey.
SOURCE: The Celebrity Apprentice