Athletes spend numerous hours during the week training and preparing for their next matches, games and adventures. Through their unmatched hard work, they are able to capture titles while simultaneously building a career and global fame.
Going above and beyond, many athletes use their popular status and successful careers to improve the world around them. These four humanitarian athletes utilize their fame and the small amount of free time they have to contribute to global charities.
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Professional Soccer Forward)
Ronaldo is known as one of the most generous athletes in the world. He often donates his bonus checks and portions of his salary to various charities and countries in need of reconstruction and help. For example, he donates millions of dollars to foundations like UNICEF and “World Vision,” which aim to enhance the lives of children in impoverished countries through the enhancement of health and education. When he’s not sweating on the field, he also takes time to physically participate in fundraising campaigns.
- Serena Williams (Professional Tennis Player)
When Williams isn’t grinding on the court winning grand slams, she’s looking to improve the status of the world’s poor. She was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2011 because of her commitment to helping the youth around the globe. In 2010, Williams announced the New Schools for Asia Campaign under UNICEF, which looks to provide children in the Asia-Pacific area with schooling. Around the world, there are 67 million people who are not enrolled in school. Of those 67 million people, 26 million live in the Asia-Pacific area. UNICEF’s executive director talked about Serena, explaining that she “isn’t just a tennis champion, she is a champion for children—and a passionate advocate for providing every child with a quality education.”
- David Beckham (Professional Soccer Midfielder)
Beckham was also appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. His focus under UNICEF is the Unite Against AIDS campaign. After visiting Sierra Leone in 2007, he said, “In Sierra Leone, one in four children dies before reaching their fifth birthday – it’s shocking and tragic especially when the solutions are simple – things like vaccinations against measles or using a mosquito net to reduce the chance of getting malaria.” Beckham hopes to draw attention to the safety and health of children through his global presence.
- Jessica Watson (Sailor)
Watson is known for circumnavigating the globe solo at the age of 16. Now at the age of 23, she continues to the explore the world as a representative for the World Food Program. This humanitarian athlete focuses her time and energy on Laos, saying, “At age 16 I achieved my dream. I want the school children in Laos to be able to achieve their dream. And stopping hunger is the first step in that process.”
Watson works with the School Meals program, making sure that kids in school are able to eat a nutritious meal every day. Global hunger affects 1 out of 7 people in the world. Jessica Watson, along with the World Food Program, aims to help 80 million people in 80 different countries combat lack of food.
These four humanitarian athletes have been able to use their global status to make a positive difference. By representing various foundations, they are not only able to raise awareness of global crises to fans around the world, but their use of fame also makes fighting global poverty a little easier.
– Casey Marx