Sports personalities with a heart of gold
Forbes recently ranked Cristiano Ronaldo as the world's top earning sportsman, with an aggregate yearly wage of $88 million. The Real Madrid star is, however, also the most charitable sportsman. He has raised money for various causes like childhood hunger, obesity and poverty. He reportedly donated £5 million to help aid development efforts in Nepal after the devastating 2015 earthquake and supports a number of charities, including UNICEF, World Vision and Save the Children.
American tennis star Serena Williams is not only a class act on the court but also off it. Williams has won a number of awards for her charity work, including the Celebrity Role Model Award by the Avon Foundation for her work to fight breast cancer and the Young Heroes Award for her support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. In her role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, she works to provide education to marginalized children.
Basketball legend LeBron James is committed to charity work over the years. During a special TV show in 2010, James raised a staggering $2.5 million for the Boys and & Girls Clubs of America. He also supports a number of other charities focused on children, including After-School All-Stars, Children’s Defense Fund and ONEXONE. Apart from that, he runs the LeBron James Family Foundation, which in his words, aims to “positively affect the lives of children and young adults through education and co-curricular educational initiatives.”
The modern-day Hulk Hogan of WWE, John Cena is ranked as the world's second most generous sports personality. Apart from his work in the ring over the past decade or so, Cena has also been appreciated for his association with the Make-A-Wish foundation. He currently holds the record for the most wishes granted. Cena has also aligned himself with the fight against breast cancer, having raised almost $2 million since 2012. Also, in October every year, WWE turns the middle ropes of their ring pink and releases special pink editions of superstar merchandise. All the profits from the sale of this merchandise goes to the Susan G Komen foundation.
Ndamukong Suh is one of the most charitable sports personalities, with Forbes ranking him the highest among NFL players. Suh is as aggressive on field as he is, while donating. In 2011, he donated $2.6 million to University of Nebraska and has a number of charities, such as the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation. Also, everytime he is fined while playing, the money is donated to NFL supported charities.
A global icon, Neymar does a lot for his home country, Brazil. The young footballer helped the country during Ebola virus outbreak, donates towards providing clean water and has paid on several occasions for free education of children. Talking to ESPN, he said, "The love I get from the kids, the conversations we have...it gives me strength to return to Barcelona and keep running after more trophies. It makes me really happy to do something for these kids and their families."
American football star, Eli Manning supports a number of charities, including Red Cross, Phoenix House, March of Dimes and St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters. He has raised $2.5 million for the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital and donated around a million for scholarships. He undertook a 5-year campaign in 2007 to raise $2.5 million for the construction of “The Eli Manning Children’s Clinics”.
Maria Sharapova is one of the highest paid female athletes of all time but what the world does not know, is her charitable side. She volunteers with Variety the Children’s Charity, donated $50,000 to those affected by the Beslan school hostage crisis, has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, and donated $210,000 to UNDP Chernobyl-recovery projects, amongst other things.
Heather O’Reilly has tasted success as a professional soccer player on many occasions but i also motivated to provide for opportunities for average girls to follow their dreams. She is involved with the Women's Sports Foundation in helping girls through enrollment and supporting their future in sports.
South Korean Yuna Kim, is the female skater to win Olympic Games, World Championships, Four Continents Championships and the Grand Prix Final. Kim has many records to her credit but apart from being excellent at her sports, she is also the Goodwill Ambassador and Fundraiser for UNICEF since 2010. She donated to those affected by the Japanese earthquake, made appeals for the children of Syria and much more.
(Contributed by: Zeba Khan)