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Bono's ONE tries to gain support in Florida for helping poor nations

Almost everyone who brings attention to a cause does so with passion — but sometimes you question the authenticity of that enthusiasm.

Sometimes you wonder if it's true belief or merely a desire to be a part of something — anything — driving the effort. The larger the challenge, the higher the cynicism that this may be more job than mission, more hobby than hope.

So when officials from ONE, a national grass roots organization, spoke to me about its efforts to curb global poverty and preventable disease, I couldn't help but think about the daunting nature of that mission.

Talk about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

However, ONE seems all too ready to make the ascent. Regional director Sara Donaldson, who's based in West Palm Beach, didn't show up with hiking boots and spikes, but she and the other 90,000 ONE members in Florida (4,000 in Tampa Bay) take pride in trying to conquer the challenge.

Success fuels the climb. They note that organizations and efforts like theirs, devoted to proven, cost-effective solutions, receive less than 1 percent of the federal budget but still are able to save millions of lives and improve conditions in a number of Third World countries.

"We are proving every day there is a constituency here in Florida that supports America's leadership to help end extreme poverty in the world's poorest places," Donaldson said.

Childhood vaccines are a major tool, and President Barack Obama recently committed $450 million over the next three years to vaccinations.

Now the challenge becomes lobbying Congress to give the pledge a priority.

With the Republican National Convention in Tampa next year, ONE will show up in a big way but will adhere to its nonpartisan approach.

Some ask why we aren't doing more to help people here, but it's not an either/or proposition. The United States benefits from greater global stability.

"Done correctly, development assistance is a sound investment in a better, safer world," Donaldson said. "We can provide those living on less than $1.25 a day access to clean water, childhood vaccines and advanced farming techniques to help them help themselves."

U2 lead singer Bono is a ONE co-founder. I jokingly called people I met with "Bono's people" this week, but there's no joking about the issues ONE continues to affect. More than 4 million Africans are on lifesaving anti-retrovial treatment for HIV/AIDS, 98 million fewer people are going hungry, and 400 million have been lifted out of extreme poverty.

It can be done, and ONE offers the chance for folks here to get involved. You can get Donaldson's contact information from the ONE website, and she can connect you with the two college-age students serving as congressional district leaders in Tampa Bay.

ONE likely will gain new Florida members and support when U2 plays at Miami's SunLife Stadium Wednesday. Fans will hear a plea to go to ONE.org. Maybe they will download the new app or agree to host their own ONE event because, you know, who doesn't like Bono?

But it would be nice if just as many people found inspiration in simply doing the right thing. You climb the mountain because you can.

That's all I'm saying.

Bono's ONE tries to gain support in Florida for helping poor nations 06/23/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2011 1:22pm]

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