Al Roker has a very simple answer for the question of how he is able to live such a busy and complicated life.
“Get up an hour before you need to,” Roker says.
That might not seem like a lot of extra time but those 60 minutes a day have allowed Roker to not only handle his continuing duties with NBC’s “Today” but given him the time to write books, battle finned foes In multiple “Sharknado” movies and produce programming designed to make a deep impact though his Al Roker Entertainment production company. The latest offering from Roker, “Life Aid: A Story of Hope,” will air at 8 a.m. Aug 30 on Discovery Network. It will also be broadcast at 5 p.m. Sept. 2 on the Science Channel and 6 p.m. Sept. 2 on American Heroes Channel.
The special looks at veterans and special cognitive treatments through the Life Aid Research Institute that raises money to provide military veterans and first responders with targeted and personalized mental health treatments. The organization also focuses on suicide prevention by combining technology, functional medicine, and community engagement to improve brain health and produce more effective outcomes.
“John Wordin has been working tirelessly with his group, Life Aid, to help our veterans, our first responders, our front-line heroes fighting all these wars,” Roker says. “They are coming back home and the technology is there to put them back together after they go through holy hell.
“But, one of the things that is still lagging is brain health – working on traumatic brain injuries and stresses.”
Life Aid has teamed with medical and research organizations to look at brain injuries with the intent on making veterans whole. The special focuses on eight people who are involved with the Life Aid program.
This look not only spotlights those who are suffering from the injuries but also examines how their families are impacted. It also looks at the people who are treating the problem. Sadly, there was a large pool of subjects who could have been featured.
“These are a representation of stories that were happening as we were taping and filming. They were in various stages of their journey,” Roker says. “Some folks had already been through it. Some folks were in the middle of it. Some folks were just starting off.”
The special falls under the guidelines for the type of programming Roker wants to produce. He’s always looking for stories that promote what he calls “social good.” His company also produced “Side by Side,” a special that aired on Memorial Day honoring the frontline workers in NYC.
Roker wants the special the raise awareness for this problem while at the same time generate some gratitude for the veterans and their families for their sacrifices.
“And, if people are so inclined to donate to local organizations, that would not be a bad thing either,” Roker says. He promises that information will be on the Life Aid website – www.LifeAidHope.org. – for anyone who wants to help.
“Life Aid: A Story of Hope” is just one of a handful of projects keeping Roker busy these days. He’s also started a show on IGTV with his son Nick called, “What We’re Cooking,” and his new book, You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success (Hachette Go, $30), was released at the end of July.
Roker talks about being an early riser in the book and how it helps him get so much done.
“I think you will find that will be the most productive and most satisfying hour of the day,” Roker says. “There are no calls. No texts or emails to answer. The kids aren’t up yet. Your spouse is not up.
“You can focus on the things you want to do or just on you.”
Just for the record, if you are Al Roker and need to get up an hour earlier, that meant before the pandemic he was rolling out of bed in the neighborhood of 2:30 or 2:45 a.m. That’s easy for Roker to do when he is so happy with the work. He admits that he still gets nervous because he doesn’t want to make any mistakes but the work is as satisfying for him today as it was when he started.
Roker takes great pride in the special especially because it took a little bit of ingenuity to be able to complete “Life Aid” as the pandemic hit during the production. The program was completed by those featured in the special – and their family members – shooting some of their own video.
“It’s beautifully told,” Roker says. “We are very proud of it and even prouder of the story that it tells.”