On February 19, 2011, actress, artist and philanthropist Jane Seymour and her husband, director, producer and writer, James Keach, held The Open Hearts Foundation Inaugural celebration at their private home in Malibu, where they honored four very special individuals who exemplify the Open Hearts philosophy.
HC’s placement of this story helped build awareness among the public about The Open Hearts Foundation and its inaugural celebration.
Inspired by her mother, Jane Seymour pays it forward with an open heart
By Christie Garton
Actress turned artist Jane Seymour says her art has allowed her to connect with the public in ways that her acting never could do.
“I found that in my life through the ups and downs, art heals me, but more importantly, it help me connect with people in ways that I never could while acting,” says Seymour. “As an actor, I’m playing someone else, reading someone else’s script, for thousands I would never meet. But with art, I can connect with people one-on-one, and it comes from my own experiences in such a real way.”
It is now through her art that she is hoping to connect with even more people, as founder of the Open Hearts Foundation (www.openheartsfoundation.org), a charitable foundation inspired by her late mother, a survivor of a prisoner camp in Indonesia during WWII.
“My mom survived a lot of tough stuff during her lifetime. But no matter how tough life got for her, she would open her heart and help someone else. She did that her whole life, even at 92 when she was blind and could no longer walk,” explains Seymour. “When I first started painting, I painted a heart but left it open. I kept coming back to that image, and suddenly realized that it was my mother’s message — the importance of keeping an open heart no matter how difficult life may get.”
This now famous open heart symbol and its message are literally at the heart of Seymour’s new foundation, which is committed to supporting children in the areas of health, arts, sports and education — charitable areas that Seymour has long been committed.
In the future, Seymour hopes to spark an international “open heart” movement, inspiring others to open their hearts, even during difficult times.
“This concept of keeping an open heart to give and receive love is universal. How wonderful would it be for there to be an open heart movement,” she says.
As a first step towards reaching this goal, she and her husband, director James Keach, are hosting an inaugural Open Hearts celebration at their home in Malibu, Calif., in February.
“We’ll be honoring several individuals who lives embody the open heart philosophy, having turned their own struggles around by paying it forward,” says Seymour.
These honorees include (from a news release):
Pat and Emmitt Smith (Education Honorees): Dallas Cowboys legend and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Emmitt Smith grew up in the housing projects of Pensacola, Florida. Despite his humble beginnings and being told he would never succeed in football, Emmitt faced these challenges head on with determination, chased his dream and now inspires others to do the same, regardless of their circumstances. The first of his family to achieve a college degree, Emmitt along with his wife, Pat, established Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities to help provide resources to underserved youth and to encourage the importance of education.
Jesse Billauer (Sports Honoree): Well-known California surfer Jesse Billauer experienced a tragic surfing accident that left him paralyzed. Jesse founded Life Rolls On, a subsidiary of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury. The program utilizes action sports as a platform to inspire infinite possibilities despite paralysis.
Susan Rizzo (Arts Honoree): Susan Rizzo established The Andréa Rizzo Foundation in memory of her daughter, who, after surviving childhood cancer, was tragically killed at the age of 24 by a drunk driver. Her dream was to become a dance therapist and give children with cancer and disabilities the gift of dance. Susan founded Drea’s Dream, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to provide dance therapy to children with cancer and special education needs.
Robin Roberts (Health Honoree): As anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America”, Robin Roberts led a very public battle with breast cancer after being diagnosed in June 2007. Roberts and her positive outlook has inspired millions of others living with the disease to live and love with an open heart. She has gained recognition from health organizations around the country, including: The Susan G. Komen Foundation; The Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program; and Gilda’s Club, a non-profit organization founded by the late Joel Siegel.
“There are millions of people like these honorees who are helping others around the world despite their hardships, and a lot of them we don’t know about. Our foundation’s mission is to honor these people, and bring them forward while raising money for great causes,” says Seymour. “My hope is that this funny little image inspires people to find a way to live their lives to the fullest and be of service by opening their hearts.”
Kindness note: For more information about the honorees and their established organizations, please visit the organizations’ websites: