Comcast SportsNet To Debut Doc Chronicling Mission of Sports-Industry Vets in Cambodia

Comcast SportsNet will provide viewers with a landmark, behind-the-scenes, two-part documentary entitled From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia, detailing the story of how two Chicago sports industry veterans — Bulls/Blackhawks/Bears team photographer Bill Smith and Bulls senior director of ticket operations Joe O’Neil — are changing the lives of hundreds of helpless children and their families each and every day in poverty-stricken Cambodia.  Part I of this unprecedented story of heartache, hope, love and triumph premieres Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 PM, with Part II debuting the following evening on Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00 PM, exclusively on Comcast SportsNet.

“The board of directors of ‘A New Day Cambodia’ is thrilled that Comcast SportsNet visited Cambodia to see our accomplishments,” said O’Neil.  “The CSN crew was present as we marked our five-year anniversary since opening our first center.  One hundred children who previously scavenged garbage 10-12 hours a day now attend school full-time, speak English and have opportunities that never previously existed.  We are excited that Comcast SportsNet will tell our story to help our visibility and awareness.”

From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia is the follow-up documentary to Bill Smith: Lasting Impressions, Comcast SportsNet’s Emmy-nominated special from 2010 that introduced viewers to Chicago sports photographer Bill Smith and his wife Lauren.  In 2002, Bill and Lauren’s life was forever transformed during their annual trip to Cambodia.

During their 2002 Cambodian visit, their guide on this particular trip suggested they “visit the children.”  What they witnessed was beyond heart breaking.  Families were actually living in the garbage dump; scavenging for items worth pennies, which often totaled to no more than ten dollars a month.  Bill and his wife Lauren then, on-the-spot, sponsored some of the young children, got them out of the dump and organized a scenario to send them to school.

Once the Smiths’ friends and family heard about the horrible plight of these Cambodian children, they also did whatever they could to help donate money, but sadly, the children still lived in dilapidated shacks and breathed in the stench of the dump 24/7.  The Smiths and two of their closest friends, Joe and Susan O’Neil, partnered to hold fundraisers in the Chicago area to assist more families and children living in the dump with the goal of opening children’s centers where these unfortunate kids could live full time.  Over the next several years, the Smiths’ dream became a reality as donations continued to pour in and they were able to form a foundation called “A New Day Cambodia” (www.anewdaycambodia.com) to provide shelter, food, and education to those in need.  “A New Day Cambodia” also officially became a 501c3 non-profit organization and a verified NGO (Non-Government Organization) in Cambodia.

However, the story doesn’t stop there.  From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia chronicles the next chapter in Bill Smith & Joe O’Neil’s incredible journey.

This past July, Comcast SportsNet anchor/reporter Chuck Garfien, along with CSN photographer Matt Zickus & CSN associate producer Justin O’Neil, traveled to Cambodia to witness the garbage dump firsthand and then visited Smith and O’Neil in action at the unbelievable ray of light that is the “A New Day Cambodia” center.  Garfien and his crew followed Smith and O’Neil as they found four new children living in the dump and brought them to “A New Day Cambodia” to recover, regroup, and – most importantly – prepare for a new positive direction in their lives.

In addition, we get to meet many of the children (who are now well into their teen years) who have benefited from Smith & O’Neil’s unrelenting fight over the past five years to save them from their dark world of despair…to a new life filled with hope and unending possibilities. This moving, two-part documentary showcasing the triumph of the human spirit is simply not to be missed.

Viewers are urged to visit a special multimedia video page on Comcast SportsNet’s website, CSNChicago.com: CSNChicago.com/journey_to_cambodia, which will include video footage from the television version of From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia and “web-exclusive” video excerpts not shown on TV.  In addition, CSNChicago.com will provide the full documentary trailer, a photo gallery from CSN’s July visit to Cambodia, an upcoming overview/behind-the-scenes commentary write-up from Garfien, along with a link for viewers to make a donation to “A New Day in Cambodia”: ANewDayCambodia.com.