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The Dalai Lama

Larry was raising money for the Santa Barbara-based and internationally known charity Direct Relief International (DRI) in the 1990s. DRI works hard to reduce the costs of its philanthropy by delivering donated medical supplies directly to hospitals and medical clinics in need. Its has a reputation for quality service and for actively seeking donations to extend its reach.

On this particular afternoon, Stewart and Katherine Abercrombie were hosting a small gathering at their Montecito home. Twenty five people had been invited.

Larry greeted the guests as they came in, including the Dalai Lama himself. Then he thought he saw a familiar face. A very handsome man with gray hair. It was Richard Gere, a follower of the Tibetan spiritual leader. As Larry greeted the actor, Stewart Abercrombie wandered by. "You're someone famous," said Stewart. "What's your name?"

Larry quickly introduced the host to his famous guest.

They all went inside. And there, something remarkable happened. Larry, who spends most of his time introducing well-known people, was himself introduced by one of the most famous people on the planet.

The Dalai Lama, with a friendly smile on his face, said simply, "I want you to listen to Mr. Crandell." It was the closest Larry ever came to spiritual enlightenment. Literally. Larry was only about five feet away from the Tibetan leader.

Larry then turned to his task, raising money from the well-heeled group. But before he could get out much more than the intended goal of raising $25,000, someone spoke up. He offered five thousand dollars.

Before Larry could reply, someone else said, "Let's just take Larry out of his misery. I'll put up 10 grand if someone else will."

Someone else did, and that was that. Three donors in as many minutes. Total to DRI: $25,000.

Larry suspects the speed of the process might have had something to do with the fact that he was on first and the people there that day were slightly more interested in what the Dalai Lama had to say. In any case, the fund-raising was as easy as it gets.