Athletes nowadays are making millions of dollars thanks to outrageous contracts and deals for everything imaginable. The jobs range from endorsement deals, to appearances and to last but not least, playing the sport he or she loves. It seems in order to make a name for yourself though, you have to excel in all areas of the sports world. Whether you’re the rookie of the year, the underdog that surpassed all expectations or simply a sports god, with your new found glory comes the eye of skeptics. So the question on everyone’s mind becomes are you up for the challenge of actually making a difference in the real world?
While some superstars are better known for their run-ins with the police than their athletic gifts, there are currently numerous athletes who are doing their best to make a difference in their local communities. Some are quick to claim these actions are a mere public relations campaign and an agent’s attempt to help build up the reputation of his or her client. Sure it doesn’t hurt the image of those involved, but it’s pretty sad that all the cynics of the world seem so quick to unite and judge. More athletes than you probably even realize are truly making a difference and succeeding quite nicely.
NASCAR driver and 2004 Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year Kasey Kahne recently donated $500,000 on behalf of the Kasey Kahne Foundation to the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. Kahne created his foundation in 2005 with the intention of helping chronically ill children and their families. The donated funds will help support the construction of a new Ronald McDonald House in Charlotte, N.C.
“Through my own experiences, I have seen first hand the impact we can all have on children who are in need,” Kahne said at the Ronald McDonald celebration event. “I encourage all of my fans, as well as the NASCAR and Charlotte community to join me and get involved in this important project.”
I don’t know about you, but I think the young superstar is genuine with his desire to help those less fortunate in his community. Oh and he’s not the only one to impress me.
New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada is also actively involved with humanitarian efforts. After his son was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis only ten days after his birth, Posada and his wife Laura established the Jorge Posada Foundation. The Foundation reaches out to families dealing with Craniosynostosis and provides emotional and financial support to them. Various events are held throughout the year, with all proceeds going directly to the families involved with the Foundation.
I couldn’t possibly write a blog post on the topic of humanitarian athletes without mentioning the efforts of Lance Armstrong. If you haven’t seen a yellow bracelet on at least one person or heard the “live strong” slogan, then you’ve either been living under a rock for a number of years or you are completely cut off from the world as we know it.
At the age of 25, Armstrong was on top of the world with an extremely successful cycling career. Then the news came that he had testicular cancer and he established the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The establishment came before he even knew if he would survive his cancer.
According to the Foundation’s Web site, over $181 million dollars has been raised for cancer survivorship programs. The Foundation sells various items on its Web site, including its powerful yellow bracelets with livestrong etched into them.
Soccer superstar Mia Hamm also has a foundation that strives to meet two goals in its efforts. The Mia Hamm Foundation raises funds and awareness for bone marrow transplant patients and also supports the continuing growth of the opportunities presented to female athletes. Even in the year 2007, female athletes are fighting for full equality and respect. Who better to lead, represent and encourage these young females than one of the women who helped bring women’s sports back into the spotlight with the 1999 victory of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Let’s face it, there are athletes who care and athletes who couldn’t care less. Skeptics may question whether these athletes are merely attempting a public relations stunt. Quick research shows how clear is it that the desire and drive to make the world a better place is there. PR stunt? I think not.