“With great power comes great responsibility.” – The Amazing Spiderman
We don’t often talk about the responsibility celebrities are faced with when it comes to handling their fame. Because despite the fact that they are everyday people, celebrities are front and center in the public eye. Their faces have become the faces that each generation associates with common stories, important life lessons, and inspirations that can last a lifetime.
While some celebrities have decided to use their fame for more questionable or self-serving pursuits, some have taken the power granted to them and used it to promote and fund worthy causes. Here is our list of the top ten celebrities who have used their names to help others.
Five-time World Series champion and recently retired shortstop for the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter has recently become co-owner and CEO of the Miami Marlins. Cited as one of the best players of his generation, Jeter is credited with bringing his team to victory multiple years running and earning him the Rookie of the Year Award in 1996, a third-place finish for the MVP Award in 1998, and both the All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP Awards in 2000.
Although not as highly publicized as his personal life or relationships with celebrities, Derek Jeter is the founder of the Turn 2 Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping children and teenagers avoid drug and alcohol addiction, and to rewarding those who show high academic achievement. Jeter also serves as an ambassador for Weplay, a website designed to encourage children to get involved in sports.
With a record-breaking 19 Grand Slam singles titles amongst many other notable achievements, this Swiss tennis player is considered to be the greatest tennis player of all time. From 2002 to 2016, Federer has been ranked amongst the top ten tennis players in the world, which has gained him quite a bit of fame and respect from many of his fellow players, professional analysts, and casual fans.
During his time in the spotlight, he has established the Roger Federer Foundation to help disadvantaged children and to promote their access to education and sports, started supporting the South Africa-Swiss charity IMBEWU which helps children better connect to sports and social and health awareness, and was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by UNICEF in April 2006.
He has also arranged a multitude of charity events and fundraisers to help raise money for victims of natural disasters such as Hurrican Katrina, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, as well as the 2011 Queensland Floods.
The current Broward County Mayor, Barbara Sharief is Nurse, Entrepreneur, as well as Florida’s first African-American and first Muslim Mayor. Founder of South Florida Pediatric Homecare, Inc., Sharief used her nursing skills to proved her community with experienced nurse practitioners able to provide at-home nursing care and assistance. Since then, Sharief has gone on to help her community by taking on a more political role.
As Mayor of Broward County, Sharief uses her position to help advocate for the less fortunate and to assist in strengthening the community’s infrastructure. She has proposed, developed, and implemented solutions to local homelessness and assisted in preventing foreclosures in Broward County. Her programs, known as Commissioner on a Mission and Broward Means Business, utilize Sharief’s experience in the business world and offer free foreclosure prevention seminars, job fairs, and a variety of business workshops geared towards keeping Broward County’s small business owners up-to-date and ahead of key trends that can help their businesses to flourish.
Cal Ripken Jr.
Also known as “The Iron Man”, Cal Ripken Jr. is a former baseball shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles. His 21-season legacy playing for the Baltimore Orioles (1981–2001) has seen him break the record for consecutive games played at 2,632. And in 2001, his first year of eligibility, he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with the fourth highest voting percentage of all time (98.53%).
He has been active in charity work throughout his career and holds the title of Special Sports Envoy for the US State Department as well as anhonorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the University of Delaware. In 1988, he and wife Kelly founded the Cal Ripken Jr., Lifelong Learning Center, which is dedicated to teaching adults to read. And in 2007, Ripken and several other notable names in the sports industry banded together to found Athletes for Hope, a charitable organization, which helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and inspires millions of non-athletes to volunteer and support the community.
Now a best-selling author and the President and CEO of Ripken Baseball, Inc., Ripken continues to donate his time and money to worthy causes.
An American businessman and entrepreneur, Wayne Huizenga has been involved in the founding of three Fortune 500 corporations and is responsible for six New York Stock Exchange-listed companies. Having made his fortune by providing a necessary service to the people of Florida and by funding and organizing three of Florida’s most recognized sports teams, Wayne Huizenga is also known for funding scholarship programs throughout Florida.
In 1992, he was named as a Distinguished American by the Horatio Alger Association for his active role in funding scholarships throughout Florida. Since then, his donations have helped to fund the association’s annual National Scholar awards, and he was named as their 2008 Norman Vincent Peale Award recipient, the highest honor bestowed by the organization. Wayne Huizenga is also the current director of the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County.
An Irish singer-songwriter, Bob Geldof is most famous for being the lead singer of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats. During his time with them, the band had Number One hits with his compositions “Rat Trap” and “I Don’t Like Mondays”. As a member of Band Aid, he co-wrote “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, one of the best-selling singles of all time.
Widely recognized for his activism, Geldof is especially known for his anti-poverty efforts concerning Africa. In 1984 he and Midge Ure founded the charity super-band Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. He and Midge also went on to organized several large charity concerts called Live Aid and Live 8. Currently, Geldof serves as an adviser to the ONE Campaign, founded by fellow Irishman Bono, and is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group who advocate for equitable and sustainable development in Africa.
Geldof was appointed an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II and is a recipient of the Man of Peace title which recognizes individuals who have made “an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace”, among numerous other awards and nominations.
An actress, singer, songwriter, and philanthropist, Sandra Bullock is most known for her breakthrough roll in Demolitian Man (1993) and subsequent starring roles in Miss Congeniality (2000), Two Weeks Notice (2002), Crash (2004), The Proposal (2009), The Blind Side (2009), Gravity (2013) and The Heat (2013). She was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama for playing Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side (2009) and was nominated in the same categories for her performance in Gravity (2013).
Over the years, Bullock has been a public supporter of the American Red Cross, having donated at least $5 million dollars to help in disaster relief efforts. She has made several public appearances to help raise funds for the Texas non-profit organization currently known as the Non-Profit Chamber of Commerce, and in 2012, Bullock was inducted into the Warren Easton Hall of Fame for her donations to charities. In 2013 she was honored with the Favorite Humanitarian Award at the 39th People’s Choice Awards for her contributions to New Orleans’ Warren Easton High School, which was severely damaged by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
Co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest PC software company, Bill Gates has since become a household name. Having stepped down as CEO in 2000 and eventually as chairman in 2014, Gates now works part-time as the technology adviser to Microsoft’s current CEO. Despite stepping down from his role as CEO, as of September 2017, Gates is considered to be the richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$84.8 billion.
Nowadays he spends his time focused on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a private foundation whose goal is to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty on a global scale and to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in America. In addition, Bill Gates along with Warren Buffet founded The Giving Pledge in 2009, a foundation where they and other billionaires pledge to give at least half of their wealth to philanthropy either during their lifetime or upon their deaths. When last counted, the current total pledged was over $365 billion.
An American actor and producer, Brad Pitt has received many nominations and awards since his breakout role in the road movie Thelma & Louise (1991). Since then he has had numerous leading roles in big-budget productions such as A River Runs Through It (1992), Legends of the Fall (1994), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Seven (1995), 12 Monkeys (1995), Fight Club (1999), the Ocean’s Eleven series (2001, 2004, 2007), Troy (2004), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Moneyball (2011), and World War Z (2013). As a producer, his most notable films are considered to be The Departed (2006) and 12 Years a Slave (2013), both of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Brade Pitt has used the fame his accomplishments have garnered him to help found and fund several charity organizations. Pitt is one of the founders of Not On Our Watch, an organization that focuses global attention on stopping “mass atrocities.” He is also the founder of the Make It Right Foundation, a foundation established in 2006 as a way to organize housing professionals in New Orleans to finance and construct 150 sustainable, affordable new houses in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. In addition, he and Angelina Jolie co-founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation as a way to combine their efforts to aid humanitarian causes around the world.
American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian, Angelina Jolie is probably one of the most well-known actresses in the world. She has been cited as Hollywood’s highest-paid actress and her successes have landed her several notable awards and multiple nominations. Best known for her roles in Girl, Interrupted (1999), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Changeling (2008), Wanted (2008), Salt (2010), and Maleficent (2014). As a director, screenwriter, and producer, she is known for her works In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011) and Unbroken (2014).
One of the most notable celebrity humanitarians, Angelina Jolie has dedicated a portion of her time and wealth to help others. Known for her penchant to go on-site to witness and interact with people stricken by wars and disasters, Jolie has gone on over 40 field missions during her time as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. In 2012, Jolie was promoted to the rank of Special Envoy to High Commissioner António Guterres, giving her the authority to represent Guterres and UNHCR at the diplomatic level. She has worked tirelessly to combine the efforts of multiple notable charity organizations to provide legal and financial aid for youth (KIND) and women all over the world.