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MJTP/Boys & Girls Club Event at Disneyland

Legacy Files

March 1, 2011

Guests, MJTP attendees, and some of the Big Brothers Big Sisters group, outside Captain EO.
Outside Captain EO, left to right:
Big Al, Blake Plash, MJTP Artist David Ilan, MJTP Director of Philanthropy Valerie,
and many of the Boys & Girls Club group.

Thanks to an anonymous donor and to co-sponsor Rose'e Entertainment, on behalf of Michael Jackson and in our mission to carry on his humanitarian legacy, on February 26 2011, the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait co-sponsored and hosted an event at Disneyland for children and familes of Boys & Girls Club of East Los Angeles.

The anonymous donor wanted to do something special, something meaningful, to brighten the lives of children even if only for a day, in Michael's name, on his behalf, and in his memory and honor. Hoping we could help with this mission, the donor, who is also an MJTP member, contacted the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait last year, with the hopes that Michael would continue to receive the recognition he so deserves for all the work he did to better the lives of children everywhere.  It is Michael Jackson's philanthropy that set the example for this donor to help make this day at Disneyland happen.  The donor specifically chose Disneyland for many reasons, some personal, but also because it is known to be one of the happiest places on earth, and it was one of Michael's favorites places.

Special guest Allan Scanlan, known as “Big Al,” greeted the children at the entrance to Disneyland, just as he used to welcome kids at the gates of Neverland.

Neverland Ranch was Michael Jackson’s celebrated home in Santa Barbara County, California, from 1988 to 2005. Inspired by his love of Disneyland, and a desire to reinvent his lost childhood, Jackson built an impressive, world-renowned amusement park, zoo and theater on his sprawling property, which he shared with countless disadvantaged and ill children. Neverland opened its gates regularly to busloads of children from various charities to experience a day of wonderment and hope.

While he was originally hired to take care of ride safety and maintenance, he soon became responsible for overseeing the grounds and numerous attractions, as well as hosting the celebrity guests and the many thousands of children. During his 15 years at Neverland, Michael Jackson developed a personal friendship with Big Al.

“The Amusement Park, along with the rest of Neverland, was built to bring a magical day, a joy-filled memory into the lives of all those sick and less fortunate kids who visited Neverland,” Scanlan said. “The impact that a day at Neverland had on the inner city children and the children who were dealing with life threatening illness was beyond belief. To represent Mr. Jackson and to help make his dream come true for those children, to be part of that magical day and the memory those children will hang onto was a blessing.”

Big Al joining us was an added magical moment, as he knows firsthand how children's lives were brightened through Michael's love and generosity by opening up his Neverland Ranch to so many deserving families. Through Big Al's presense and sharing memories of years at Neverland, we were, in a sense, able to bring Michael with us. You could definitely feel him all around, knowing these kids were about to have a day filled with fun and magic!

Following is a little information about some of the attending children, families and chaperones (who are also part of the Boys & Girls Club of East Los Angeles).  Names have been removed for privacy.

Staff chaperones had their children with them and have been with the club for more than five years.  They are part-time workers who don't make much and usually don't get to go to the special events.

Family 1: Ten siblings.  Mother very grateful.  She says she would never be able to afford taking them, especially since one sibling is special needs.  Six of the children attended.

Family 2:  Parents were separated over this past year. The four siblings have had a rough year.  

Family 3: Three teen brothers who share a room.  Had never been to Disneyland.

Family 4: Two siblings who have been raised by a single dad all their lives.  Have been club members for nine years.

Family 5:  New to the United States.  Child is being raised by single dad and grandma.

Family 6: Two children being raised by single mom.

Family 7: Brother and sister new to the club who haven't made friends yet.

Family 8: Children are being raised by their aunt.  They go to middle school together and are friends.

Here are some of the photos from the happy event.

Outside the Disneyland Entrance
Some of the Boys & Girls Club group. "Let the Memories Begin!"

David Ilan looks on as one of the Big Brothers Big Sisters chaperons talks to the children.
David Ilan looks on as the Boys & Girls Club children
anxiously await to enter Disneyland.

Blake Bash listens as Big Al talks with the children about Michael Jackson.Big Al shares with the children memories of Michael Jackson and opening his Neverland home to children and their families.
Blake Plash listens as Big Al shares with the children memories of Michael Jackson
opening his Neverland home to children and their families.

First stop once inside Disneyland: Captain EO!
First stop once inside Disneyland: Captain EO!

First stop once inside the gates: Captain EO!
The MJ Captain EO sign, just outside the Captain EO entrance.

Thank you to Rose'e Entertainment, Pacific Coachways for helping to make this possible.

Thank you, Big Al, for adding that that extra something that made this even more of a day to remember!

Extra special thanks to the anonymous donor for your charity in action... 

Above all, thank you to everyone at Boys & Girls Club for the work you do.  Love to the children and families of Boys & Girls Club of East Los Angeles. It was truly an honor to be able to do this, and to share these special moments with you. 

To learn more about the Boys & Girls Club, visit their website: http://www.bgca.org/
For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of East Los Angeles, visit their website: 
http://www.bgcela.bbnow.org

~Valerie, MJTP Director of Philanthropy

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