Professional athletes earn hefty salaries and are idolized by millions of fans. This puts them in the unique position of being able to donate and raise money for their favorite charitable causes. These five athletes from five different sports are some of the most generous benefactors when it comes to helping the less fortunate.
The man who could arguably be called the world’s best golfer has been involved in charity work and donations for some 20 years. His Tiger Woods Foundation provides money for deserving but impoverished students who want to go to college. It awards dozens of grants to improve under-privileged children’s health. Millions of young people have benefitted from his generosity.
The foundation has doled out over $30 million in grants, scholarships and internships. It also provides specialized education on such courses as graphic design, marine biology, and aerospace engineering so that these students have a meaningful career upon graduation. Additionally, he donates regularly to Shriners Hospitals for Children, the Rainforest Foundation Fund and Caddy for a Cure.
The top women’s tennis player isn’t just a whiz on the court. She has been given many awards for her work with charities, such as the Young Heroes Award for her support of Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Family Circle and Prudential Financial Player Who Makes a Difference Award and the Celebrity Role Model Award from the Avon Foundation for her work fighting breast cancer.
She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador who has traveled to Ghana with UNICEF to lobby for better educational opportunities for children in third-world countries. She actively supports the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides legal representation to those who may have been denied a fair trial. Her foundation has helped build two schools in Kenya, The Serena Williams Secondary School in Matooni and Wee Secondary School in Makueni.
The world-famous soccer star supports a wide variety of charities, including UNICEF and its Unite Against AIDS Campaign. His own charity, the Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust, provides needy children with wheelchairs and other support. He also advocates for other charities, including the Red Cross, Malaria No More, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Peace One Day. He is a supporter of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the war veteran advocacy group Help for Heroes.
Retired New York Yankee Derek Jeter launched the Turn 2 Foundation in 1996. Its goal is to “create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and ‘TURN 2’ healthy lifestyles,” according to the foundation’s website. Over the last 20 years, the foundation has donated approximately $1 million annually to its cause. Most of his charity work benefits New York City and western Michigan where he was raised.
NASCAR driver Gordon isn’t just a champ on the track. In 2009, he founded the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Fund at Riley Hospital. The foundation’s ultimate goal is to “reach the day when no child will have to face cancer.” He is a founding member of Athletes for Hope, which promotes charitable causes and encourages professional athletes and millions of non-athletes to volunteer and support their communities. Gordon is also involved in AARP’s Drive to End Hunger program and the Clinton Global Initiative.
These well-known, wealthy athletes have shown the effect their fame and riches can have locally, nationally and globally. For more information on athletes who make a difference through their philanthropy, visit this website.
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