Pop icon Lady Gaga has a team running the 2013 New York City Marathon on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, a youth-empowerment organization.
"Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation was granted 10 positions in the ING NYC Marathon this year," Jessica Scheer, director of partnerships," told me in an exclusive interview Oct. 29.
The team has raised over $115,000 to fund programs like our Born Brave Bus Tour and online resources like our Bravest Map Ever.
We are blessed that these amazing individuals who connect to our mission in a variety of ways volunteered to train, raise awareness of our mission, and fund-raise for our programs."
Lady Gaga has long preached self-empowerment, and railed against the dangers of bullying, which contributes to the alarming rates of teen suicide each year.
Lady Gaga launched the Born This Way Foundation in 2011 to provide a forum for young people to connect in a safe community where they can feel accepted.
Despite Lady Gaga's stunning worldwide popularity now, she revealed she was bullied in high school for being fat, ugly and weird. "Being teased for being ugly, having a big nose, being annoying [was tough]," said Gaga. "I had a very big nose, very curly brown hair, and I was overweight. I got made fun of."
Lady Gaga, 27, said being a victim of bullying made her more sensitive and open-minded, and is part of the reason why she relates so well to her fans, many of whom she says are eccentric misfits just like her.
Last year, the pop star hit back at weight bullies who fat-shamed her for gaining 25 pounds during her summer vacation. Gaga was especially upset because she had suffered from eating disorders as a teen.
In a revealing blog post, Gaga revealed she battled anorexia and bulimia since age 15 and has struggled with weight issues her whole life. Gaga, who has since lost all the weight, said everyone should love themselves no matter what their size.
Through her Born This Way Foundation, Lady Gaga hopes to spread the message of self-acceptance to young people everywhere. "Everyone has the right to feel safe, to be empowered, and to make a difference in the world," she said. "Together, we will move towards acceptance, bravery and love.