Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Carlana Stone gets into a good groove on "Oprah's Big Give"

Last week, I told you that Oprah Winfrey's new show, "Oprah's Big Give," included a contestant who uses a wheelchair, Carlana Stone. Stone got off to a rocky start in the first episode but vowed to learn from her mistakes and learn she did.

The March 9 episode had the contestants in Denver, where they were given $4800 and 48 hours and told to find someone in need to help with the funds. Stone chatted with a man in a parking lot and found out his stepdaughter had several disabilities and was non-verbal. She sprang into action, meeting the family and assessing their needs. She made an important decision not just to help Blair, the 16-year-old with a disability, but the entire family, including Blair's older brother who needed some resources to apply for college. Stone revealed that she has a nephew with disabilities like Blair's, and she really hustled to give the family even more than the $4800. In fact, she raised about $10,000, which allow Blair to get a medical assessment and an assitive technology device to help her communicate. The rest of the money will help her older brother apply for colleges.

Then Oprah threw a twist into the show and told all the contestants they had to find someone who could use the car that each contestant used in Denver. Stone knew exactly what to do because she had a car with hand controls. She called a rehab hospital in Denver and found someone newly disabled who didn't have the resources buy an adapted car. She found a Bosnian immigrant who recently became a paraplegic. He and his family were overjoyed, and Stone explained how important it was to have the independence that a car gives someone with paraplegia.

Stone was definitely on her game in this show, and her knowledge of disability issues helped her truly serve the two families she found to help. The contestant who was eliminated on that show gave his car to someone who wasn't needy, so it was pretty much a foregone conclusion he would be leaving.

"Oprah's Big Give" seems to be applying Oprah's golden touch to ABC, which led in Nielsen ratings on Sunday nights, according to The New York Times.