When Kevin Bacon first learned about the trivia game of connectedness that bears his name, he thought he'd live out his remaining years being the punchline of a joke.
Years later, through personal tragedies, the Sept. 11 attack on America and the conflicts in its wake, he found himself wanting to contribute more to society, and he said he found inspiration while looking at a jar of Paul Newman spaghetti sauce in his refrigerator.
"Do I have anything that is branded with me?" he told the audience at Thursday's TEDxMidwest conference. "Somehow the Footloose Foundation didn't feel right."
And then he remembered the trivia game.
"If you take me out of the six degrees idea, it really is a beautiful concept because we really are all connected, and the things that we do here, now, on our block affect people on the other side of the world, and they affect people on the other side of town," he said.
The charitable organization that bills itself as "social networking with a social conscience," started with the nonprofit Network for Good in January 2007. Since its launch, it has raised more than $3.6 million.
Through the site, users support their favorite charities by donating or creating fund raising badges and then connecting with other users.