Since 2006, William Shatner, Canadian icon, actor, writer, producer, director and musical performer has been the Spokesperson of March of Dimes Canada. He has filmed popular public service announcements,recorded radio ads and voice broadcasts, and includes the charity in his popular social media properties.
William Shatner was born March 22, 1931 in Montreal, Quebec. He first gained fame for his starring role as Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the television show Star Trek and seven of the subsequent movies.
Since then, Mr. Shatner has worked tirelessly in a variety of media, and won numerous awards for his portrayal of attorney Denny Crane in the television series The Practice and Boston Legal. His autobiography, Up Till Now, was released in 2008 and a follow up Shatner Rules was released in 2011. Both, can be found in bookstores across the country, or online at Amazon.ca.
More recently, Mr. Shatner released an album Seeking Major Tom, produced and narrated a documentary called The Captains, where he traveled around the globe to interview the elite group of actors (Chris Pine, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula)who have portrayed the role of Starship Captain in the Star Trek series and films. Throughout 2011 and 2012, Mr. Shatner starred in a One-Man Show that toured across Canada, took Broadway by storm and is now touring the United States. Most recently, Mr. Shatner produced and narrated Get a Life, a documentary that focuses on Star Trek fans and how the show has affected their lives.
Mr. Shatner took time out of his busy schedule to talk to March of Dimes about his years as spokesperson.
March of Dimes: You have an extremely busy schedule, so we really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. Our donors, supporters and consumers love hearing from you.
William Shatner: It is my pleasure.
March of Dimes: A big part of what drew you to March of Dimes was your memories of living through the polio epidemics. What do you remember most about that time?
William Shatner: I was very aware of the polio epidemics, and what I remember most was the fear, the sense of fear that permeated everything. It was just all around you. Everybody knew a family member or friend who had polio, remember houses being quarantined, being kept out of swimming pools, or being sent out of the city in the summers. And it was because of March of Dimes, and the dimes they collected for the research (for a polio vaccine) that helped find that cure, and ended the fear.
March of Dimes: Today March of Dimes provides programs and services or children and adults living with disabilities, which is a cause very close to your heart. You are a big supporter of therapeutic horseback riding programs for people with disabilities – can you tell us a little more about that?
William Shatner: I have seen the remarkable impact therapeutic riding has on people, not only with physical disabilities, but with emotional or traumatic injuries as well. It makes an enormous difference in the lives of people. I have seen individuals who have recently lost limbs, or suffered a trauma be transformed by the salutary effects of riding. And the people served by March of Dimes are similarly affected by the same kind of good work.
March of Dimes: You have recently become a sensation on social media, with your interactive Twitter and Facebook pages. How do you think March of Dimes can connect to stakeholders in much the same way?
William Shatner: We are now in a whole new era, this viral revolution. For those of us over 30 years old, it might not be second nature to get all our information from the computer or our phone, but for the younger generation, this is where they learn and communicate. The younger generation might not understand the meaning behind March of Dimes* but if you can get them engaged, then they can go to Mom and Pop and say ‘you have to do something’ for this charity. For today’s generation, collecting dimes might not make sense, and in today’s terms we would be collecting dollars or more. But I remember when a gallon of gas cost a dime, and March of Dimes was able to collect enough dimes to help fund a cure for polio. If you can use social media to engage people in the same way and show how a large number of people giving a small amount can make a huge contribution, than we can set our sights on helping even more people.
(*March of Dimes note: In the 1940s and 50s, desperate to find a cure and protect their children from polio, mothers across Canada joined in a North America-wide fundraising effort, going door- to-door in their neighbourhoods to collect dimes. The sheer scope of the campaign led entertainer Eddie Cantor to suggest the name “March of Dimes”, based on his song ‘Brother Can you Spare a Dime?’ and a popular newsreel of the day known as the March of Time)
March of Dimes: Thank you very much for your time and sharing some of your history with us.
William Shatner: You are very welcome.
William Shatner’s most recently recorded public service announcement can be found on our website and YouTube Channel.
March of Dimes Canada is tremendously grateful for Mr. Shatner’s support and thanks him for his ongoing contribution to enhancing the community participation and independence of Canadian children and adults with disabilities.
For more information on William Shatner, please visit his website at www.williamshatner.com, follow him on Twitter @williamshatner or ‘like’ him on Facebook.