David Bruce McMahan's daughter, Cristina, was born in 1970 with cerebral palsy. The experience of raising her led him to take his first serious steps into philanthropy. In 1985 he founded the National Cristina Foundation, in honor of Cristina's courage and persistence. Bruce McMahan (as he is known) came up with the idea for the foundation as the result of two unrelated events. First, he noticed that the Apple IIe computer he had donated to his daughter's special-ed classroom had led to a remarkable improvement in her ability to communicate. And he had recently had to upgrade computers in one of his offices, leaving him with a large number of slightly older computers that were in perfect working order. Could not these computers be put to use training people with differing abilities and people in need? It was out of these two ideas that the National Cristina Foundation was born. Since its inception the National Cristina Foundation has helped thousands of people all over the world. McMahan's daughter, Cristina, is now a spokesperson for the foundation.
McMahan built on the success of his first philanthropy by establishing the McMahan Center Abilities Activists Foundation. McMahan Center Abilities Activists partnered with the World Rehabilitation Fund to design, execute, and document a vocational training program to a village of landmine survivors in Cambodia. McMahan Center Abilities Activists also partnered with the Brazilian Foundation Pensamento Digital to bring computers and technical training to community centers in impoverished neighborhoods all over Brazil.
Bruce McMahan has also contributed to other philanthropic efforts. Within hours of Hurricane Katrina's strike, a group of doctors from Connecticut were en route to Biloxi Mississippi on McMahan's plane. Once on the ground the doctors piled into ambulances that traveled around the area providing assistance, leading the locals to dub them "docs in a box."
McMahan and his family also support You and Me Together, which provides toys, sporting goods, and general support to after-school programs for kids at risk in Argentina.
Closer to home, McMahan has sat on the board of his Alma Mater, Union Institute and University, acted as mentor, supporter and strategist for his fraternity, and built a playground in his own community.
McMahan has set an example that his children make an effort to emulate. His daughter Heather is the founder of the Art For Soldiers Foundation. His son Esteban received the 2006 Citizen of the Year Award from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce's Foundation for a Sustainable Community. He supports El Centro Latino, Carolina for Kibera, and was a mentor/advocate for the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate program. His son Jeffrey rides with The Adventurists in support of Foundations like Carolina for Kibera and Frank Water Projects. His daughter Alison sat on the board and was co-president of Cinewomen NY. She helped CWNY join forces with New York Women in Film and now works to support NYWIFT.
McMahan has also passed on his philanthropic tradition to his grandchildren, from Ashley's volunteer efforts for Pan de Vida Orphanage, to Joelle's baking for Cupcakes with a Smile, to David's donation of his lemonade stand earnings. This website brings together in one place information about David Bruce McMahan's and his family's philanthropic activities all over the world.