A lot of celebrities claim they care about the prosperity of young people, but for Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels, he lives and breathes it. As an adult —after three albums and achieving triple-platinum status— he learned he was adopted and placed into the foster care system as a baby.
“I found out at age 35 that I was adopted," McDaniels told ESSENCE.
"I realized I was given love, direction and education, something that was pivotal in me becoming the person I was destined to be. Every child, regardless of their unfortunate situations, deserves the opportunity to become positive productive achieving people, with access to the assistance to achieve their dreams and desires!"
In 2006 McDaniels and Emmy Award-winning casting director, Sheila Jaffe founded The Felix Organization, a non-profit that provides a summer camp and financial support to children in the New York and Los Angeles foster care systems. They've helped dozens of kids start off on the right foot through creative programs, encouraging them to pursue higher education and competitive careers.
On Saturday, The Felix Organization will partner with other organizations for the 6th Annual American Graduate Day that highlights the importance of mentorship from childhood to high school. McDaniels is a living testament to the importance of providing a safe, stable environment for all children —foster and otherwise— to prosper.
“I was in foster care until I was five years old," McDaniels said. "I was one of the last foster kids in my parents’ home... so instead of sending me back, they kept me! It saved my life!"
"Now I must use my parent’s model of care, concern, and love to create awareness and help provide an opportunity for the many children in the same situation! American Graduate Day is a wonderful vehicle to help create awareness.”