Local News

Clay Aiken Reflects on Charity Trip to Mexico

Posted February 4, 2008 8:28 a.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2008 12:01 p.m. EST

— Before making it to the finals of Fox TV's "American Idol," Raleigh native Clay Aiken gave a good deal of his time to helping local kids with disabilities. Since American Idol, he has been helping kids worldwide.

WRAL Anchor Lynda Loveland sat down with Aiken about his trip to Mexico with UNICEF.

After his Christmas tour and before beginning his stint on Broadway in "Spamalot," Aiken took his mother and brother south of the border. Instead of Christmas in Raleigh, they spent the holiday touring flood-ravaged parts of Mexico with UNICEF.

In some places, 70 percent of the land was under water. More than 1 million residents were affected, one-third of whom were children.

“Floods are a horribly powerful natural disaster, and people in the eastern part of this state can attest to it more than anyone else can,” Aiken said. “You lose everything with a flood. Even with a tornado, you can run down the street and hopefully grab something that you lost.”

Aiken said one of the most amazing things he witnessed was when kids ran up to him, hugged him and pointed at his shirt – not because of who he was, but because of what was written on that shirt, “UNICEF.”

“How powerful that is, that kids all around the world know what UNICEF means, and they see that T-shirt,” he said.

Aiken has been all over the world with UNICEF. He said the outpouring of support was overwhelming, except when it came to Mexico.

“There is, unfortunately, a lot of negative connotation that Americans get when they hear about Mexico, and I think that there’s apathy there. I think people just don’t really care that much,” he said. “As much as I understand it, it’s painful when you go down and you see these kids who don’t have shoes and they’re walking around on horribly contaminated ground, and all they want for Christmas, literally, they wanted shoes.”

After working with UNICEF, Aiken traveled to New York for “Spamalot,” the Monty Python stage production. He also plans to record his next CD while he’s in the city.