By Misty Schwartz on
Scott L. Schwartz is widely known as the “Ultimate Bad Guy” from his acting career, and has appeared in films such as Ocean’s 11, 12 & 13, Starsky & Hutch, Fun With Dick And Jane, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Star Trek Voyager and many more. But Scott’s most cherished role is the “Ultimate nice guy” – he has been visiting children’s hospitals worldwide for the past 12 years after losing his sister to lung cancer in 1998.
He recently spoke with LookToTheStars.org’s Misty Griffey about his work with sick kids throughout the US and Canada.
Why did you choose to support cancer-based charities?
As a professional wrestler I would visit hospitals. I really enjoyed visiting people – especially around the holidays – and “cheering them up”. In 1998, I lost my beloved sister – Beth – to lung cancer. During her treatment, I was talking to her doctor out in the hallway of the hospital, and he told me: “the single most important element in the treatment of this terrible disease is to keep the patients spirit uplifted”. I thought to myself: “hey… I can do this”!!
I was “grief-stricken” and shocked for a short period after Beth’s passing. I was adamant that my sister’s death would not be in vain. I started doing what I like to call “Beth’s Work”. I exclusively target children’s oncology units. I cannot tell you how many times in my tenure of doing this, that a parent or sibling has followed me out into the hall after a visit to their “loved one”. They tell me: “I have not seen (him or her) smile or laugh for a year. They did not stop laughing while you were in that room. Thank you.” Staff have told me that too. I am sure that if Beth is watching me from up there, she is smiling and shaking her head, and saying “that’s my brother”.
How long have you supported them?
I think that I have primarily gravitated to this area of treatment since 1998, when we lost Beth.
What is your impression of the facilities you have visited?
I have been to children’s cancer facilities all over the United States and Canada. Every facility has professionals that are taking care of our sick children. How much thanks can you give for that? These people are tending to their needs day in and day out. What a blessing they are! God willing, someday we will find a cure for cancer.
How or why did you choose to get involved?
I really think there is a place in the treatment for what I do. Children find the guy with the dog or the clown uninspiring, to say the least. Not that they are not trying to raise spirits. Last week I was in Cincinnati, Ohio, shooting a film. I visited Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. I was in a “playroom” for a while, and patient’s would come see me. They told me that some patients had not ventured outside of their rooms for anything – except to come see me. I feel truly blessed to be empowered to do this.
Can you talk a little bit about some of the other causes that you support?
I also support Juan Hernandez’s Alicia's House. It is a growing food pantry south of Chicago in Illinois. Juan is a great man. He was one of my old wrestling buddies. Juan bends over backwards for his community. He feeds the hungry. He is a minister. He does not stop working for others – 24/7! He is the best.
I am also supportive of the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots. I cannot ever say enough about this country’s military. They enable us to be able to lay our head to rest on our pillows at night. We have had some very successful toy drives. I feel as though anything that i can "give back’ to the military is worth my while.
Also in the “pack” is CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County), as well as a group called Santa’s Gift. Wow! What a great bunch of guys here!!! They purchase teddy bears – not mini ones, but full sized ones! They have “Santa’s” – they go to each child’s room and give them a teddy bear. Each child has a personal visit with Santa! Talk about raising spirits!!!!! There is absolutely nothing more depressing for a child than being in the hospital during the holidays. These guys lift those spirits – in a big way!!
Rounding out the group is Reading, Writing, It’s Exciting! I am on the board of directors here. They emphasize teaching our kids to read. I think this group is a fundamental need in our society. Teaching kids the right way – and praising them for a “job well done” – is much needed encouragement for our youth. Remember, the kids of today are our leaders of tomorrow!!!
So it seems like children’s causes seem to really be of interest to you?
Yes. As Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the “Wizard of Oz” said: “The best place to start is at the beginning.” Establishing a foundation at young ages is so very important. Child illnesses are so tragic. I enjoy the work I do! A lot of hospitals ask me where I want the “press” to be. I tell them “no press!!!!!” I am doing this for the children – not the press!!! A lot of hospitals have told me that celebrities have allocated 15 minutes of their time to a hospital… 15 minutes!!!! They “grab” a kid out front, take some photos with the kid – and leave!!!! I am not some drunk trying to “rehabilitate their reputation” in the public eye! I do not go to a child’s door and wave and “blow a kiss” and run out the door. I have stayed in these hospitals for 8 hours! I do not leave until the job is done! And no press!!!
And how important do you think it is for celebrities to get involved in charity?
Well… good question. I believe anybody that has “risen above” should give back. So much is needed! I cringe every time I see a celebrity raising money abroad, to help sick children. There are so many sick, innocent children here – in the United States – the front line of our battles with cancer are here!
Please visit Scott’s charity website here. Thank you Scott L. Schwartz for taking time for this interview.
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