On Sunday, April 17, fearless Grey’s Anatomy cast and crew members will step out of the OR and onto our first-ever Tough Mudder Half course to raise awareness for LA based nonprofit, My Friend’s Place. On a mission to help the homeless youth of Hollywood improve their lives, My Friends Place empowers them to reach their highest potential, inspiring over 1,700 young people ages 12-25 to do better than their best every year.
Driving the initiative to Make Mud Matter is is Giacomo Gianniotti, the newest series regular to join the cast, who took it upon himself to create a corporate team and rally costars to join him in raising funds for this awesome cause. We caught up with Dr. DeLuca to find out what drew him to My Friend’s Place, what inspires him to give back, and how the Tough Mudder community can help.
First, have you ever run a Tough Mudder before?
I did a show for ABC about a year ago called Selfie, and in an episode my character had to do a Tough Mudder - that was my first introduction to the course. Even though it was for a shoot, we were filming all day so I feel like I really got my hands dirty.
What inspired you to connect your fundraising efforts on Crowdrise with Tough Mudder Half?
I saw Tough Mudder Half as a great opportunity to get people involved. Being an event that’s about camaraderie, bringing people together, and overcoming obstacles there are a lot of parallels to the work that the people at My Friend’s Place are doing. By asking castmastes to get involved and to use the platform we have as actors on the show, it’ll only help to raise a greater amount of funds for the cause. What My Friends Place does is really special and I want to bring attention to that in any way that I can.
What drew you to My Friend’s Place?
Robin Williams was my absolute greatest inspiration - not only just as an actor, but as a human. He did so much philanthropic work that went unnoticed and his initiative was homelessness. People aren’t homeless because they want to be homeless, it’s because they don’t have the right access to things that provide stability. So when he passed away, it affected me really profoundly, and I decided I wanted to carry the torch and to be an ambassador that continues to do his work.
Why have you chosen to do that through My Friends Place?
When I started working on Grey’s Anatomy, a co-worker had put me in touch with My Friend’s Place after telling her I wanted to get involved in some way. I went and learned more about what they’re doing, which is super inspiring. They provide a safe haven for homeless youth in Hollywood. Beyond meals, clothing, and showers, they have a huge transformative education program that focuses on the arts.
The people there are motivated to make themselves bigger, brighter, bolder while waiting for housing and jobs to come their way. My Friends Place is a safe haven where people start out as strangers, but once they come in it turns into a vibrant community. Like a Tough Mudder obstacle, some of the things these young people are struggling with you can’t get over without the help of a friend.
Philanthropy is a big part of your life, what inspires you to pay it forward daily?
My mother is a huge inspiration to me - she’s always helping everyone but herself. Growing up before any of my success as an actor took off, it was hard to get people involved because no one gives a shit about you- it’s hard to raise funds or to get people to care. For me, the great joy and real payment of getting this kind of attention, is that I now have an opportunity to take advantage of that platform. What I’m doing is small, but I’m trying to use my power for good.
What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned through giving back?
Often times people find themselves wanting to help, to give back, and their thoughts in the beginning are that they want to help others. But what they don’t know, and what they always find out, is how much they’re actually helping themselves, how much it feeds you. That’s not meant to sound selfish, giving back is a healing process, and when we’re all helping each other, we’re all healing each other. It makes any issue or problem so insignificant - it puts things into perspective.
For a chance to win a day on the of Grey’s Anatomy with the cast and crew donate to Giacomo's CROWDRISE page. To learn more about the awesome initiatives My Friend’s Place is working on and how you can help click HERE.