Burbank, CA and Washington, DC (February 27, 2002) – DisneyHand, the global outreach program of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), and ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, have become USO World Partners, assisting with outreach and marketing efforts on behalf of the USO. Disney is providing more than $1 million in financial aid and in-kind support for the USO, helping it to provide quality programs and services to our service men and women overseas.
In January, Drew Carey, star of ABC-TV’s The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and former member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, returned to the war zone with fellow The Drew Carey Show cast member Kathy Kinney, as well as several cast members from Whose Line Is It Anyway?to entertain troops. Carey was one of the first celebrities to enter the war zone in Afghanistan as part of the USO Deliver America Tour visiting troops last holiday season. During that time, he entertained and mingled with the troops and signed autographs.
“One of Disney’s greatest strengths is its ability to entertain, so what better way for us to support our troops than by sending the best entertainment we can to the people who are defending our freedom to create it,” said Michael D. Eisner, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “From the efforts of Drew and his fellow ABC stars, to providing our troops with first-run movies and DVDs, to the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Armed Forces Salute, we are proud to make our products and people available to the men and women in our fighting forces.”
“The USO appreciates the impressive commitment to its mission from both Disney and ESPN. This relationship will truly benefit the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces deployed throughout the world by helping the USO to provide vital morale-boosting services,” said The Honorable Edward A. Powell, President and CEO of the USO.
DisneyHand has coordinated efforts among ABC, Inc., ESPN, Disney Channel, The Walt Disney Studios, Disney Parks and Resorts, Disney Stores and local television and radio stations to support U.S. troops at home and abroad and to aid in the nation’s relief and rebuilding efforts. To honor American men and women fighting for freedom, the DISNEYLAND Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort announced an unprecedented program which allows active duty U.S. military personnel complimentary admission into Disney theme parks, as well as ticket discounts for family members and friends. “Disney’s Armed Forces Salute” will be offered through April 30, 2002, for active duty U.S. military personnel, with proper U.S. military identification. Also, Disney cast members have continued their tradition of running Disney’s Operation Uplift, which provides employees with postcards for them to write messages to U.S. service men and women abroad. The postcards are sent to hundreds of U.S. troops and are meant to express thanks and encouragement from grateful citizens at home. Disney’s Operation Upliftwas born in 1995, following a successful trial during Operation Desert Storm.
In November 2001, in honor of Veteran’s Day, ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionairefeatured military personnel from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Fourteen finalists were chosen at an audition of 1,700 service personnel at Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk, VA, the world’s largest Naval station and home of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Disney’s radio properties also have provided support to U.S. troops. TalkRadio 790 KABC, 95.5 KLOS-FM, ESPN Radio 1110-AM, KDIS 710-AM and Radio Disney partnered with the Voice of America (VOA), and the Army Broadcasting Service, in providing these two agencies with recorded holiday messages heard by U.S. servicemen and women stationed in various countries and messages of goodwill to people around the globe. Further, DisneyHand has donated more than 100,000 videos and DVD’s to families and personnel on U.S. military bases around the world.
DisneyHand, the worldwide outreach program of The Walt Disney Company, is dedicated to making the dreams of families and children a reality through focused public service initiatives, community outreach and volunteerism in areas such as learning, compassion and the environment. The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a diversified, international family entertainment and media enterprise which includes Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, The Walt Disney Studios, ABC, Inc., ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Stores, television and radio stations and Internet web sites.
ESPN, Inc., The Worldwide Leader In Sports, is a multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company, comprised of six domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Today, ESPN Now), ESPN International (26 international networks and syndication), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Regional Television (the nation’s largest syndicator of live sports programming), SportsTicker, and ESPN Enterprises, overseeing brand extensions such as the ESPN Zones, sports-themed dining and entertainment complexes, and consumer products. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
The USO has positioned itself as an effective and patriotic partner with organizations concerned with how best to support our troops. With donations from Disney and ESPN, the USO will continue to provide quality programs and services to our men and women in uniform stationed overseas.
Nearly 12,000 USO volunteers dedicate their time and talents to serving troops in 122 locations around the world. The USO Fund for Freedom’s Finest assists our Armed Forces in preparing for our greatest mission, the fight against terrorism. 100% of individual contributions will go to support the vital programs and services the USO provides. To donate to the USO Fund for Freedom’s Finest in support of our American Armed Forces, please call 1-800-876-7469 or visit www.uso.org. For more than 60 years, the USO (United Service Organizations) has “Delivered America” to America’s military personnel – America’s finest. The USO is a Congressionally chartered, nonprofit organization, and is not a government agency. The USO is supported by World Partners AT&T, BAE SYSTEMS, Coca-Cola, The Walt Disney Company, ESPN, USAA Foundation, VFW and Wal-Mart, corporate donors such as Anheuser-Busch, General Dynamics, Nissan, Northwest Airlines, the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-0600), as well as contributions from individuals. For more information on contributing to the USO, please call 1-800-876-7469 or visit our Web site at www.uso.org.