Yesterday would've been Bart de Graaff's 41st birthday. For those of you outside of NL: Bart re-invented TV and proved that if you have a dream, you can always find a way to reach it. Bart suffered from kidney failure and a growth malfunction, stopping his growth at age 12. He made his first TV appearance in a cookie-commercial around age 22, and his enthousiasm was so infectuous that a national TV station gave him his own kids show.
He gave it his all and his popularity grew, along with his notoriety for questionable taste (he played types like a weatherman with Gilles de la Tourette syndrom, Teletubbies lookalikes with drug- and drinking habits, and dared to wake up celebrities at their home in the middle of night). But aside from that, he never hid the fact that he was ill and probably wouldn't get old. He lived life to the fullest and managed to fulfil his greatest wish: His own TV-station / broadcasting organisation. A few years later, his body rejected a donor-kidney, his health declined rapidly and he died shortly before his 35th birthday.
In his commemoration, the BART foundation was started, to help seriously ill men and women fulfil their dreams without drawing attention to their illness.
Bart de Graaff. You either loved him or hated him. But everyone had respect for his fighting spirit, his willpower, his determination and his neverending enthousiasm. Yesterday, I visited his grave and wished him a happy birthday. The many fresh flowers there showed me that I'm not the only one who still remembers him. I wish I could've met him at least one time. His organisation lives on, making daring TV and radio, exactly in his spirit. Sometimes shocking, sometimes 'on the edge', keeping the 'established' media on their toes. Remember the stunt with The Donorshow last year that became worldwide news? That was BNN (Bart's Neverending Network). The show managed to raise a huge buzz and caused an increase in organ donors. And this year they caused a storm in national politics for wanting to broadcast Deep Throat, the movie on national TV (after midnight and after two documentaries about the movie). They did.
So Bart, I hope you're having a good time up there. Know that down here your legacy is still going strong.