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Ruth Riley Feeling Humbled, Honored And Inspired

12/2/2014
Courtesy of Ruth Riley

Looking over the audience at the Junior Chamber International (JCI) World Congress this past weekend in Leipzig, Germany, brought back fond memories of my experiences at the 2004 Olympics. It reminded me of the opening ceremonies, where the beauty and diversity that exists in our world was highlighted by the amazing culmination of countries, cultures, ages and races.

For those not familiar with JCI, it is a non-profit of young, active citizens who are taking action to provide sustainable solutions in more than 100 countries around the world. I was incredibly humbled to be honored as one of their Top Outstanding Young Persons of the World in the category of Humanitarian and or Voluntary Leadership.

In the sports world, as a society, we love to idolize the “superstar.” If you ask any coach, or purist of the game, they would tell you that the winning shot does not happen without the rest of the team members playing their role. They are the ones who create space on the court, set the screen, and deliver the ball at the right time, and these “thankless jobs” are incredibly important to the overall success of the team.

I think that concept is evident in our daily lives as well. Take the UN Foundation’s NothingButNets campaign, which I have been a spokeswoman for on behalf of NBA/WNBA Cares since it’s inception in 2006. We would not have had the opportunity to take Stephen Curry to Tanzania a few years ago to help distribute nets if organizations like JCI wasn’t mobilizing people around the world to partner with the campaign. They participate in the BUZZ Tour, advocate on Capital Hill for funding, and just this past weekend I stopped by the NBN 3x3 tournament that JCI Turkey was hosting for the World Congress. The most amazing thing is that NBN is only one of thousands of causes that JCI rally behind globally. It has been very inspiring and encouraging to witness the incredible impact that JCI members are making!

While I am humbled that people admire my achievements and those of my fellow nominees, I hope that everyone can take a moment to recognize and celebrate the uniqueness and greatness that lies within each of you. I love the quote by Gandhi: “Be the Change you want to see in the World.” Our society so often portrays this impossible image that we should strive to live up to. Gandhi truly celebrated the potential that lies within each of us.

I believe our actions should inspire others, not to be like us, but rather to look within themselves and seek out their own unique purpose in life. Each day we are given a virtual pen and paper and how we live out those 24 hours, the time that we invest, the love that we share, the encouragement and resources we provide will inevitably dictate the story of our lives.

Starting in 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been named #GivingTuesday. Seeing an opportunity to channel the generous spirit of the holiday season to inspire action around charitable giving, 92nd Street Y and the UN Foundation came together to find ways to promote and celebrate the great human tradition of giving. So as you contemplate your purpose, seek out a charity that you are passionate about and spread a little holiday love this season!!!