Recognized as one of the top-selling artists in history, Sir Elton John has continued to have an enormous impact on the music industry and pop culture. However, his influence goes beyond music. Over the years, John has used his platform to raise awareness for several charitable organizations. Here is a glimpse of Elton John’s impact through his efforts with five organizations.

Elton John’s Involvement

  1. Elton John AIDS Foundation – Elton John founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) in the U.S. in 1992 and a separate entity in the U.K. in 1993. This organization aims to fund programs that alleviate the financial, emotional and physical pain caused by HIV/AIDS. EJAF fights to raise awareness, educate, treat and prevent HIV/AIDS. In 2018, it enabled 235,000 adolescents to receive HIV testing and connected more than 68,000 patients to treatment programs. Since 2010, the organization has reached and over 11.5 million people and has raised $125 million to support similar programs around the globe.
  2. Riders for Health – In 2008, Elton John donated 120 motorcycles to healthcare workers in Lesotho. The bikes enable doctors and nurses to reach patients in remote areas of Lesotho, where many suffer from HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Lesotho has the second highest number of individuals infected by HIV, and the second highest number of cases in tuberculosis.  Additionally, almost 73 percent of patients infected with tuberculosis are simultaneously infected with HIV. John made the donation in partnership with the Lesotho Ministry of Health and Riders for Health. Founded in 1996, Riders for Health is an international nonprofit dedicated to increasing accessibility and efficiency of healthcare in Africa. The organization manages motorcycles, ambulances and other vehicles that provide healthcare to seven countries in Africa.
  3. Breast Cancer Research Foundation – Through his performances and donations, Elton John has supported the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) for over 15 years. BCRF provides essential funding to cancer research worldwide and is the highest-rated breast cancer organization in the U.S. At the NYC Hot Pink Party in 2016, BCRF honored John with a research grant in his name due to his dedication to the organization. He capped off the night with a performance. This event alone raised over $6.8 million for breast cancer research.
  4. Starkey Hearing Foundation – In 2012, Elton John and spouse David Furnish joined the Starkey Hearing Foundation on a trip to Manila to help fit more than 400 children and adults with hearing aids. The Starkey Hearing Foundation is committed to raising awareness, education and protection of hearing care. The organization provides more than 100,000 hearing aids annually and has reached over 100 countries. Additionally, John has previously preformed at the So the World May Hear Awards Gala to raise funds and awareness for hearing accessibility.
  5. The Elton John Sports Fund – Elton John’s impact is also present through the Elton John Sports Fund. Rocket Sports started the Elton John Sports Fund in 2014 in partnership with SportsAid. This partnership supports young athletes by providing money to travel, to get necessary equipment and to decrease the overall financial strains of a given sport. The recipients of the Elton John Sports Fund are promising athletes who come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and sports interests.

Throughout his career, Elton John has championed numerous causes, earning him awards such as the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2017 and the BAMBI Award in 2004. John has performed at countless benefit concerts, raising awareness for organizations that range from rainforest conservation to supporting first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elton John has made a lasting impact on the world, using his star-studded platform for good.

Megan McKeough

Photo: Flickr

Riders for Health
One of the largest barriers to medical services in rural areas, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, is unreliable transportation. More than 60% of Africans live on dirt roads and paths.

Riders for Health works alongside other health-focused organizations and ministries in managing fleets of motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles that health workers use to reach people living in remote locations. They deliver supply chain distribution, mobilizing outreach volunteers, sample transport and emergency referrals. Riders for Health trains participants as mechanics to prevent motorbikes and vehicles from keeping communities without health care. They have reached people across seven countries — 14.5 million people have gained health care access; 2.9 million have contact with health professionals yearly, and roughly 400,000 blood and sputum samples have been transferred between laboratories and health centers by Riders for Health.

The organization’s mission is to prevent death by an easily preventable, or curable disease, due to distance, terrain or poverty. Ministries of health, international and African NGOs, private-sector organizations, local community-based organizations and religious groups have worked with Riders for Health to deliver medical services to about 21 million people.

Across Sub-Saharan Africa, The World Health Organization estimates millions of lives are unnecessarily lost yearly because of preventable and treatable diseases. Spanning the country, roughly 12,000 children die daily from illnesses, like pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, malaria and malnutrition. Most cases aren’t due to vaccines and medicines not existing, but unreliable transportation prevents millions of people from getting the medical services they need. British racing journalist Barry Coleman and his wife Andrea found this notion unacceptable, so they started Riders for Health together.

However, the organization was forced to shut down the front doors of their U.K. branch earlier this year. Riders for Health continues to operate in Liberia, The Gambia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya and Malawi. Unfortunately, the U.K. program launched in 1996 was cut due to lack of funds, according to the Official MotoGP charity Riders for Health.

In the late 1980s, Coleman visited Somalia and found piles of new-looking motorbikes and broken down vehicles, due to poor maintenance. He saw the risks women and children faced because they lacked sufficient healthcare delivery. His wife recalled children needing immunizations and women dying during childbirth, while cars, motorcycles and ambulances sat miles away at the ministry of health car parks.

Riders for Health has equipped outreach health professionals to visit almost six times more people while spending double the amount of time with their patients. Now every month, Riders for Health can hold 3,500 more health-education meetings a month across the continent. Bubacarr Jallow, a community health nurse for Riders for Health, started the program with a Yamaha AG100 and continues to deliver medical services four years later. He’s traversed over 50,000 kilometers, covering more than 10,000 people in 13 villages.

Rachel Williams