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Old 01-22-2011, 11:10 PM   #1
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Default Big names help put nonprofits on map

Big names help put nonprofits on map
By Bill Zlatos
Sunday, January 23, 2011

Troy Polamalu, a game changer on the football field, could transform a nonprofit group that helps veterans, military members and their families.

The Pittsburgh Steelers safety is the headlining celebrity for an auction Jan. 29-Feb. 5 on Twitter that will benefit Operation Once in a Lifetime in Dallas. Among the 300 celebrities participating are fellow Steelers Ike Taylor, William Gay, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley.

Auction details

For more information about the celebrity auction Troy Polamalu is headlining on Twitter, go to twitchange.com, or tweet Troy Polamalu@tpolamalu.

"It's the No. 1 thing that ever happened to us, next to meeting Troy," said Patrick M. Sowers, founder and president of the group. "Imagine how many soldiers and kids we're going to be able to help and change their lives."

Operation Once in a Lifetime provides linens and toiletries for military personnel returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, toys for their children, and airfare for military members to see their family or send their sick children to a hospital.

Alex Holmes, 29, of Los Angeles runs the Polamalu family's affairs except for the football contract. The brother of Polamalu's wife, Theodora, he is managing Polamalu's side of the auction.

"An organization like Once in a Lifetime had 20 followers," Holmes said. "There wasn't much awareness about what they are or what they do. Now this has been going on, and they have over 2,000 followers."

Polamalu's auction is sponsored by TwitChange, an Atlanta nonprofit that raises money for charity through celebrity auctions on Twitter. Fans bid on a chance to be followed, mentioned or retweeted by their favorite star. They also can bid on a "mega-package" that consists of being followed, mentioned and retweeted, as well as getting some celebrity gifts.

Eva Longoria headlined the first TwitChange auction last year. More than 175 celebrities took part. It received 30 million hits on the Web and raised about $540,000 for housing in Haiti.

"I would be very happy if we raised over $200,000," Holmes said.

TwitChange founder Shaun King likens a celebrity tweet to the modern version of an autograph.

"We don't think it's worth thousands of dollars to tell you hello on Twitter," King said. "But it's worth giving all of that to charity."

Bill Zlatos can be reached at bzlatos@tribweb.com or 412-320-7828.

Read more: Big names help put nonprofits on map - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...#ixzz1Bpe4CpXl
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