As Hurricane Isaac bore down on Louisiana, one native of that state had this to say at 10:45 a.m. yesterday in a tweet to his more than 2.5 million followers: “Screw you Hurricane Isaac- leave my family and my home alone please…”
The tweet came from Ian Somerhalder, aka Damon, the hottest vampire on the hottest CW show, The Vampire Diaries.
That’s right, Arkansans: Damon really is a Southerner, but the man who portrays him is not from Virginia; he’s from right next door. But it isn’t the fact that he’s from Louisiana or his smoldering good looks or his perfection of the wounded-heart-disguised-as-a-wise-guy act that makes Somerhalder so hot: what is most attractive about him is what he chooses to do with his time off the small-screen.
For the past two years, Somerhalder has devoted much of that time to his foundation which seeks to “empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures” (from the isfoundation website). In addition to saving the planet, Somerhalder wants to help animals and “the most powerful, yet disregarded, disrespected and overlooked population on the planet – our youth.”
But how? Is he a celebrity who merely lends his name to a cause in order to make himself look better?
The answer is a resounding “no.”
Back in 2010, Somerhalder personally aided oiled wildlife and taped a series of public service announcements after the BP oil spill in the Gulf. (See the PSAs here.)
That same year, Somerhalder hosted a benefit for the St. Tammany Humane Society located in his hometown of Covington just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. At the event, members of an unofficial fan club presented him a check to aid in the start-up of his foundation, which was launched a month later. It was a perfect example of fiction meeting reality, of entertainment meeting philanthropy.
In the two years since, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation has exploded with growth and has led numerous campaigns. Currently, the featured project is an animal sanctuary, but it isn’t your ordinary-run-of-the-mill sanctuary; this one will pair animals in need of rehabilitation and healing with kids in need of emotional rehabilitation and healing. Read about the project here.
In keeping with his character of doing his own part in contributing to the foundation, Somerhalder will participate next month in the Best Friends Animal Society’s annual Strut Your Mutt event at Parc Sans Souci in Lafayette, Louisiana. The ISF hopes to raise $150,000 at this event. One hundred percent of proceeds raised by Ian’s Dog Pack at the Strut Your Mutt event will go directly to the Animal Sanctuary.
So far, Somerhalder has reached 47% of his personal goal to raise $2,500 through the Strut Your Mutt website, and the 37 total participants of Somerhalder’s Dog Pack have raised 3% of the $150,000 goal. With less than a month to go, the ISF needs the help of animal lovers everywhere.
Arkansans, you can help by donating to this writer’s fundraising campaign. Yes, she is a member of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation Dog Pack, and her personal goal is to raise $100 for the cause. To contribute, just click here.
Ultimately, this article isn’t about fundraising. It’s about the power of example that inspires others to do something rather than just talking–or in this case writing–about it. Thank you for the example, Mr. Somerhalder!