Ryan Seacrest has been called the “busiest man in showbiz,” and for good reason: his ventures span the realms of television (daytime and prime time, working in front of the camera and behind the scenes), radio, fashion, skin care, and more. He first captured America’s attention as the host of groundbreaking reality TV singing competition American Idol and has parlayed his fame into an empire that nets him a cool $50 million per year. He’s not too busy to give back, though. With his charity, the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, the star is giving hope to sick kids across the country.
Ryan Seacrest launched the Ryan Seacrest Foundation in 2010, but its story goes back even further, to his visits to children’s hospitals in the early days of American Idol. The celebrity heard over and over from the hospitalized kids’ parents that they yearned for something fun, exciting, and fulfilling to do during their long hospital stays – and he vowed to do something to help.
The Ryan Seacrest Foundation has since built ten kid-friendly broadcast media centers, called Seacrest Studios, in ten different pediatric hospitals. These studios serve sick children throughout the United States, from the South (Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina) to the Northeast (Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Washington D.C.) to the Midwest (Ohio) to the West (California, Colorado) – and the foundation plans to open more Seacrest Studios in the years to come.
Seacrest Studios boast top-notch facilities and state-of-the-art technology. Pediatric patients at hospitals with Seacrest Studios have the opportunity to use professional-quality equipment like microphones, video cameras, and even green screens. They use this equipment to explore the worlds of radio, TV, and new media and to produce content such as radio shows, music videos, and TV shows.
The Ryan Seacrest Foundation is able to manage Seacrest Studios so effectively in part thanks to its thriving internship program. Each Seacrest Studio invites local college students studying subjects like journalism and communications to apply to the program. The lucky interns then get to practice working in their field of choice while also helping sick kids learn real-world skills and have a ton of much-needed fun.
Each Seacrest Studio also has a full-time on-site manager, who runs the studio and is in charge of coordinating activities and programming for patients and their families. Some of this programming is for a live studio audience comprised of patients, families, and staff; it may also be broadcast throughout the pediatric hospital, giving even those who are too sick to leave their rooms something fun and intellectually stimulating to enjoy.
Seacrest Studios also give sick kids the opportunity to spend time with some of their favorite celebrities – tons of musicians, actors, athletes, and other public figures have dropped by to perform, give interviews to kids, or just meet their fans and spread some smiles. Ed Sheeran, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, John Legend, Chris Pratt, Aly Raisman, and Michelle Obama are just a few of the many big-time stars who have visited Seacrest Studios – and, of course, Ryan Seacrest is known to visit, too!
Another special aspect of the Ryan Seacrest Foundation’s offerings is that they bring fun and meaning not only into the lives of the sick children, but also those of their families – this is important because a child’s illness can be very hard on the entire family. The healthy family members of sick kids frequently find themselves spending long stretches of time in the hospital and experience much of the same fear, boredom, and loneliness as the sick child, so the family members can also participate in and benefit from Seacrest Studios.
Ryan Seacrest knows a lot about the importance of keeping families together and smiling because he’s so close with his own family. His family helped him conceptualize the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, and they assist him with its operations to this day. Ryan’s father, Gary, is the President and CEO of the organization, while Ryan’s sister, Meredith, serves as its Executive Director and COO. Ryan’s mother, Connie, rounds out the group as the Vice President of Community Affairs and Hospital Relations. Ryan Seacrest is very devoted to his family and to the families of sick children across the United States.
Ryan Seacrest’s devotion has clearly paid off – hospitalized kids and their families have rave reviews for Seacrest Studios. For example, Kami, the mother of a seriously ill 12-year-old girl, says, “…[My daughter] actually looks forward to each [hospital] visit because of the studio. The work, care and donation the Ryan Seacrest Foundation has made available to the children’s hospital has made a huge difference for our child. Instead of dreading each trip, she actually looks forward to coming back…and stays every minute that she can at the station.”
Ryan Seacrest’s hard work has even earned him such accolades as Variety’s 2015 Philanthropist of the Year award. The Ryan Seacrest Foundation has also been celebrated with awards such as a 2016 Cynopsis Social Good Award.
So what’s next for the Ryan Seacrest Foundation? In addition to considering various children’s hospitals for future Seacrest Studios locations, Ryan Seacrest and his family are looking into connecting the various Studios at different hospitals to allow sick kids from across the country to share their unique programming with each other.
Ryan Seacrest has long since proven that he’s a force to be reckoned with in fields like TV hosting, TV production, radio, menswear, and more. With the success of his thriving, impactful nonprofit, the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, he’s also demonstrated his ability to make a major difference in the lives of sick children and their families.