The event brought together entertainers, athletes, philanthropists and business owners, who took the time to thank the students in attendance for their hard work in community service. Award-winning actor Martin Sheen was one of those celebrities. “I’ve been an actor all my life, in fact I have no conscious memory of ever not being an actor, but while acting is what I do for a living, activism is what I do to stay alive,” Sheen told the students.
Sheen expressed his gratitude to those in attendance for the actions they are taking to change the world. “By your presence here today, you are not typical or average young people who see things and ask, ‘why?’ You are dreaming things that never were and saying, ‘why not?’” he told the students.
Both Sheen and Kielburger hope to continue to empower youth to be active global citizens and ultimately make it cool to give back. “We want to reward young people for doing good,” said Kielburger. “So often young people feel that the problems are so big, challenges so overwhelming – what can I do? And so we wanted to create We Day as that moment where every young person feels empowered and they know they can make a difference. The Super Bowl has the best of sports, the Grammys the best of music, why shouldn’t we have an event that fills stadiums with the best in service?”
Part of what makes We Day so “cool” is the type of talent that takes the stage to address the students, including Oakland Raiders players. “It’s amazing. It’s fun for us. We’re not out here playing football; we’re out here as men and we’re inspired by these kids,” said Reece. “It means a lot to us. Today is not just about giving back but rewarding them for what they’ve done.”
When the Raiders took the stage during We Day, the crowd cheered loudly and was motivated by the presence of their local heroes. “Here’s what I love the most, it’s that we’re here in Oakland where we, and the local young people here, cheer on their sports team and they fill stadiums and they get excited and they cheer them on as role models and as heroes,” said Kielburger. “The part that I love is we got the team now looking out at the students, looking out at their fans, and cheering them on for service. For [the Raiders] to look out on that stage and cheer on young people to say they are heroes to the players because these kids are making a difference, that’s inspiring and that’s empowering. That’s something the young people in the audience will remember for the rest of their lives.”