NANCY AND PHILANTHROPY
In addition to her work as a journalist, producer, designer and author, Nancy is passionate about inclusion and respect for all people, including those with intellectual disabilities. Nancy is also a devoted advocate for ALS awareness and research funding. Her hope to help to find a cure for ALS is very personal for Nancy, having lost her mother Betty, to the disease in 2008. Nancy is also a committed supporter of organizations which fight for the wellness of children and provide compassionate care to those in need.
In August 2015 Nancy was announced as an official spokeswoman in an effort to raise awarness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Advocating for ALS awareness and research funding is very personal for Nancy. Her mother, Betty, was diagnosed with ALS in November 2007, and she passed away from complications related to the disease in June 2008. As spokeswoman, O’Dell is focused on building awareness of the work of ALS.net, a global network of affiliates who are working tirelessly towards a cure for ALS.
Nancy is an International Board Member of Best Buddies. Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Nancy is a founding member of the American Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families.
Founded by the Shriver family in 1968, Nancy was named Global Ambassador for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. The Special Olympics is all about people becoming part of teams, and letting them compete and participate in an inclusive environment. Nancy participated in a torch run for the celebrated games with her mentee of the Best Buddies organization and “Glee” actress Lauren Potter. The Special Olympics is near and dear to Nancy's heart. Nancy's, aunt Ellen was a person with down syndrome. "She was the dearest friend in the world to me," says Nancy.
Nancy's Mother Betty, a lifelong South Carolinian and a retired school teacher, was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in Nov, 2007. From that day forward Nancy joined the MDA's ALS Division to bring help and hope to all those affected by ALS. Betty's Battle was formed to help fund the research necessary to find a cure, so other families don't have to go through what Nancy's family did.
The March of Dimes is the leading organization for pregnancy and baby health. As a spokesperson for over 10 years, Nancy works with the March of Dimes to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.