Robert LeGoreHe first set foot on Manila soil in 1992. Back in New Jersey, USA where he was born, he was a public defender for youth offenders. He believed that by giving a guided chance at life for these youth offenders, they would gain experiences for a more meaningful existence. He strongly believed that with meaningful experiences, one can bring out the best in one’s self.
In the years that he traveled to see the world, South East Asia was his target but the Philippines was never in his itinerary because of the political situation then. But fate would have it, that he landed in the Philippines. Mt. Pinatubo erupted and the plane that was taking him to Bangkok had an emergency landing in Cebu, an island south of Manila.
While having dinner in Cebu, he met another passenger by the name, Exclamado, a well known Filipino–American publisher in San Francisco, California. They talked about people, events and places and intrigued by the publisher’s description of Manila, Robert soon found himself roaming the streets of Manila. In the streets of Manila, he found the Filipino children different from those in other parts of the globe. Despite their poverty, he said, they are friendly, they smiled at strangers and their eyes glimmer with hope. He was inspired by the children’s resilience. He befriended them and listened to their dreams of a brighter future. This inspiration from the children gave birth to the Open Heart Foundation Worldwide, Inc. in June 1992.
Since the Foundation was established, he would spend most of his time in the Philippines. He would go back to the USA or visit other countries, but he saw to it that he would stay longer in the Philippines to have more time in joining children’s activities that he supported financially or would visit children’s centers where he gave monetary contributions.
In June 1997, he went home to the USA. Since then, he never had the chance to come back but would always get in touch through phone calls. In August 3, 2000, he died of emphysema at the age of 59. Robert LeGore has left life on earth but his spirit lives on. Through the Foundation, he helps thousands of children yearly through education which he believes is the most important tool to liberate man from ignorance and poverty.