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  October 29, 2001

Motivational Speaker to Open Month of Kindness

The man who created AIDSRides USA and the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Days will speak on Tuesday, October 30 in the Student Union Ballroom, at a time to be announced.

Dan Pallotta, whose company Pallotta TeamWorks is the nation's leading producer of what it calls "human potential events" and has raised more than $250 million for charities in less than eight years, will kick off the University's Month of Kindness.

It was Pallotta, in fact, who gave Debbie Rubenstein, executive director of Hillel, the idea for the month. Rubenstein participated in the three-day, 60-mile walk for breast cancer last summer in Boston and opened discussions with Pallotta about putting together a month focused on acts of kindness. The two decided to inaugurate the month this year at UConn and create a prototype that can be taken nation-wide next year.

"Dan is an incredible motivator and a wonderful speaker," Rubenstein says. "He likes to do things that are a challenge for the participants and that really get you thinking."

The Month of Kindness, conceived before the terrorist events of September 11, has taken on new relevance since then, she says. "Focusing on being kind to one another really helps you focus on what is truly important to you.

"We may not be able to change the world all at once, but we can change our neighborhood, our town or city, our state and the way we act with our own circle of friends," she adds. "We can start small and build from there."

The month also stresses the need for all members of the community to give back. "Generosity is not only something that you exhibit during the holidays when you buy presents for people. Generosity of spirit - extending a hand to others - is critically important to preserving our society and our humanity," Rubenstein says.

Pallotta is the author of a new book titled When Your Moment Comes, A Guide To Fulfilling Your Dreams By A Man Who Has Led Thousands to Greatness.

"Dan's goal is not to make you great, but to help you make yourself great," Rubenstein says. "He wants to you to recognize in yourself the capacity you have to help others and to achieve your potential."

Pallotta's book is described as a book "not about getting ahead - it's about getting a heart. Dan shows you how to reclaim your true calling and create the courage to pursue it."

The son of a construction worker, Pallotta grew up in Malden, Mass. As a Harvard undergraduate, he organized the first cross-country "Ride to Life," a 4,235-mile bike ride across the country, in 1983. He and 39 other students completed the trip, raising $70,000 for Oxfam-America, an international hunger relief agency.

In 1985, Pallotta moved to California and helped organized the Great Peace March Across America and Hands Across America. He also originated the first California AIDSRide in 1994, inspiring thousands of cyclists to raise funds by biking along California's coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In 1998, he began the Avon three-day walk for cancer, which raised more than $5 million in its first year of operation alone.

The month will close on December 5, with a lecture by the director of Amnesty International USA.

Karen A. Grava

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