People cheer for athletes when they score touchdowns or goals, but there is much more to cheer for. Athletes are some of the most charitable individuals in the world. Many athletes are using their money, time and influence to impact communities in need both locally and globally. Here are five athletes making a difference around the world.

5 Athletes Making a Difference

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo: One of the most well-known and successful soccer players in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo. While his list of sports accolades is expansive, many are not aware that his humanitarian works are equally impressive. Since his rise to prominence, Ronaldo has been an advocate of various causes, ranging from the prevention of AIDS/HIV to slavery and human trafficking. Ronaldo was awarded the title of the most charitable athlete by dosomething.org’s campaign “AthletesGoneGood” in 2015. Ronaldo currently serves as an ambassador for Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision. In a recent display of activism, on March 24, 2020, Ronaldo donated $1.08 million to 3 hospitals in Portugal, working to fight COVID-19 in the country.
  2. Serena Williams: On the tennis court, Serena Williams is one of the world’s greatest players but outside of her matches, she spends much of her time dedicated to philanthropy. Williams currently serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Through this role, she works to establish schools in an effort to provide quality education for vulnerable children through UNICEF’s Africa program and Schools for Asia initiative. Williams has volunteered since 2015 to help immunize children in Ghana. She has also assisted in spreading the Largest Lesson. This program works to spread knowledge about how to combat global issues such as inequality, injustice, extreme poverty and climate change. Additionally, Williams runs her own charity called “The Serena Williams Fund,” which works to impact a variety of issues around the world ranging from race relations to inequity.
  3. Serge Ibaka: NBA player Serge Ibaka is committed to helping children both locally, in his immediate Toronto area, and globally by assisting The Republic of Congo and other impoverished countries around the world. Ibaka, who grew up in the Republic of Congo, founded the Serge Ibaka Foundation because he recognized the need for adequate education and health to provide children with an avenue to a successful future. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization implemented a relief program in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The organization has currently gathered 80 tons of food, which is expected to impact 8,000 families in the region.
  4. Neymar Jr.: Soccer player Neymar Jr. has dedicated the majority of his humanitarian work to assisting impoverished Brazilian communities in an effort to ensure that they have access to adequate Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) facilities. In 2014, he partnered with Waves for Water, which works to bring clean water to vulnerable communities in the country. In April 2020, it was revealed that Neymar donated $950,000 to UNICEF and Paris-Saint-Germain to assist in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil.
  5. Yuna Kim: Since the start of her career, South Korean figure skater, Yuna Kim, has not only been passionate about her craft but also aware of the importance of helping those in need. Kim was a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and, through her position, she has been an advocate for helping those affected by natural disasters. She donated $83,000 to Haiti in 2010 after an earthquake ravaged the country. After a similar natural disaster impacted the people of Nepal, Kim donated $100,000 to help. Yuna Kim has taken her charity work as an opportunity to carry out her faith, by donating her money to a variety of Catholic hospitals and charities in Seoul, Korea, and by giving a large sum of money to the missionaries of Salesian of Don Bosco in South Sudan. These missionaries work to establish schools and assist vulnerable populations in the war-torn country.

Athletes are well known for more than just their abilities on the court, in the field or on the ice. Many athletes use their money to help people in need around the world. When it comes to these athletes, there is more to cheer for than the points they score.

Kira Lucas
Photo: Flickr