Cheryl and Oprah: One on One, Pt. IV

May 25, 2011 4:54:21 AM PDT
Oprah Winfrey has touched many lives. Now on the eve of her last show, in exclusive interviews many of the people she has influenced say Oprah's impact stretches from Chicago to all over the world.

For 25 years, The Oprah Winfrey Show has been the biggest thing on television.

From the beginning, Oprah has taken what she calls her classroom and thrown the doors wide open.

"Most people have a circle of 20, 25 people they see on a regular basis every day. My circle is just broader. But I think the power of each human being comes from what you do with your circle...So I don't feel that I'm any different, I feel the platform is different," Oprah told ABC7's Cheryl Burton.

From opening The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa to $80 million in donations through the Angel Network to the millions who have been inspired to read through the Oprah Book Club, Oprah's generosity is well known. Oprah says giving is rooted in her humble upbringing in the rural south.

"When I was a little girl in Mississippi, I always felt that life was better when you share it. And that's whether it's a Snickers bar or whatever was going on in that moment. It's just so much more fun if you can tell somebody about it or you can share whatever it is. So that is just who I am," she said.

While the Oprah show became a worldwide phenomenon, her biggest impact may be right here with Chicagoans.

"Oprah had a huge role in making this a global city before people even talked about Chicago as a global city," said former Mayor Richard M. Daley. "And her commitment of staying here, she really enjoyed the people of Chicago."

"Oprah is a worldwide individual. What she's doing and who she is touching, it's past Chicago," said Richard Dent, former Chicago Bear.

"Growing up in Chicago, Oprah was already a trend setter and a trailblazer and to know what she has done in the world, just to see what she's done for people," said Common.

At a recent gala in Chicago to honor women who excelled in their field, many credited Oprah with their inspiration.

"I do what I do because of Oprah, and she has opened the door for so many of us," said The View's Sheri Shepherd.

"She is a woman who has inspired people to know wherever they come from, they can aspire, they can dream and they can obtain their dreams," said actress Regina Taylor.

Even for the woman Oprah calls her "sister girlfriend," former poet laureate Dr. Maya Angelou.

"Oprah has helped to make Chicago great. Chicago has helped to make Oprah great. When she leaves, she leaves a wonderful legacy of excellence," said Dr. Angelou.

According the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Oprah is personally and financially responsible for the advanced education of 65,000 students worldwide.

Oprah credits her fourth grade teacher, who attended her last show, for her success.

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