Celebrity Charities: Stephen Baldwin Finds Purpose in Breast Cancer Work
If you're ever in Syracuse, N.Y., don't be surprised to see an 80-year-old woman in a pink helmet sitting in a sidecar of a Harley-Davidson. That's just Carol M. Baldwin, matriarch of the Baldwin clan, doing her part to raise money for her Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund.
Son Stephen Baldwin tells TVGuide.com: " ... We're trying to talk her out of it because she ain't getting any younger!"
The 41-year-old Baldwin is doing his part too, volunteering on behalf of the organization, which his mother, a breast cancer survivor, created in 1996 without the help of her famous sons. "It was really after my mom had created enough awareness of the organization on her own ... that it became a catalyst for the brothers to almost have to get involved. It was pretty cool to see," he says. Since then, the organization has been a family affair and has raised nearly $3 million for research.
We caught up with Baldwin to learn more about his work, including another cause that's close to his heart.
TVGuide.com: How much did you know about breast cancer before your mom was diagnosed?
Stephen Baldwin: Just being a bit of an activist and a little charity-minded back then, I had an awareness of breast cancer, but obviously, nothing like that can compare to when it actually hits you at home. My mom was diagnosed about a month before my wedding [in 1990]. She kept a lid on the whole thing for a while, which was very unselfish of her. Afterward, she took the necessary steps she needed to, including a double mastectomy. ... Then my sister, Elizabeth, who's also a survivor, and my mom had this initial idea of wanting to do something to help others because they were in a position to do so.
TVGuide.com: What are the organization's goals?
Baldwin: The organization raises funds in order to give grants to the medical community to do research and find a cure. My mom's heart is mostly focused on finding a cure. In addition to that, there is the ongoing and active participation of not only my mother and my sister, but other members of the organization who are engaging people who are going through this, helping them and continuously being out in the culture with the message of awareness. They're making great strides in the cancer community, particularly breast cancer, in awareness and preventative-type of medicine.
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TVGuide.com: There are two chapters, one on Long Island and one in Syracuse, and you work with the Syracuse one. What types of things do you do?
Baldwin: I focus on fundraising events. Throughout the year, there are a lot of small events, more so in upstate. They generate between $5,000 and $10,000. It's very grass-roots, but a lot of that stuff makes a huge difference. There are a few annual galas we do, which are evenings of entertainment. There are upstate and downstate golf tournaments, and there's the thing that people probably consider the most fun — the motorcycle ride. My mom has always participated in, sitting in the side car of a Harley-Davidson wearing her pink breast cancer awareness helmet.
TVGuide.com: The organization's grown so much in 13 years. What kind of feedback have you received over the years?
Baldwin: The fruits of all this continue to blow my mind. I travel all over the world and you never could think something that was East Coast regional could have the wide impact that it does. People who stopped me in airports and say, "Hey, you don't know me, but my niece went through a bout with breast cancer and I just want you to know that your mom and your sister and your mom's organization was incredibly hands-on and they drove down and saw us and sent us letters."
TVGuide.com: How rewarding is it to hear that and to know your mom is the force behind this?
Baldwin: It's humbling and gives me a purpose. In my position and the position of my brothers, we can get all kinds of recognition, but for me, that's the good stuff. That's the stuff that really matters. What matters more than anything is our ability to continue to be socially and civically minded. It's far more important that we do unto others that we like to see do unto us. I just don't credit my mom; I credit my sister and all the women who run these organizations. There's a solidarity here of women who've been through this who really want to get this message out to as many people as they can.
TVGuide.com: What's your biggest piece of advice for women?
Baldwin: Just get a check-up. If at all, there's any type of cancer at all in the history of a family, which unfortunately almost applies to everyone, but particularly in regards to breast cancer, they're saying the screening period to do mammograms and things like that is 10 years younger than what they thought it to be. It's really important for women between 30 and 35 to start to consider getting a check-up. They now have these machines that are much more easy to use. When you go through this process and you have an understanding of catching this early enough, it makes all the difference in the world.
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TVGuide.com: What can the public do to contribute?
Baldwin: This month and throughout November, we've partnered with an amazing company called Chews-4-Health. It's an organization that has a really yummy dietary supplement. It's got all sorts of antioxidants that make it better than the average vitamin. They are donating $5 for each order at orderchews.com in October and November.
TVGuide.com: You competed for another charity on I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! — Love 146. Can you tell us more about that?
Baldwin: Love 146 was started by a gentleman who I've known for some time and their work is just incredible. They are actively rescuing young girls between the ages of 5 and 15 from Southeast Asia where they're sold into sexual slavery. For me, it's just a big common sense kind of "duh!" to get the message out. ... What a lot of people don't know is that sex trafficking is the third most profitable business on the planet. It's like big oil, porn, sex trafficking. Love 146 is equally involved in rescuing these young girls as they are in the restoration process. They have an amazing program that gets these little girls the help they need to get and sometimes in 12-14 months, they're playing kickball and reading books and have gone through the healing process of continuing with their lives.
TVGuide.com: How's your mom doing now?
Baldwin: She's doing great. She's still out there 24/7. She's always thinking of and/or working for the organization. We just had the first 80th birthday party for her at a gala event a few days ago. There will be multiple 80th birthday celebrations!