MENDHAM, New Jersey — Every four years, athletes from around the world come together to compete in one of the most prestigious events, fighting to win a medal for their respective countries. The summer Olympics makes stars out of hard-working athletes, who may not have been famous before participating. Through their own actions, these participants who answers the call to alleviate world issues transforms into humanitarian athletes.
The following four humanitarian athletes from the 2016 Rio Olympics use their fame and fortune to help raise awareness and money for various global foundations.
1. Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt, known as Lightning Bolt, is the fastest man on earth. He has won nine gold medals, having only lost one race in his Olympic career.
Usain Bolt has become a household name because of his success in the Olympics. Unselfishly, he has used this fame to support and create foundations to help people around the world. He has supported the Small Steps Project and created the Usain Bolt Foundation.
The Small Steps Project is an organization dedicated to helping children who attempt to survive by rummaging through rubbish dumps. The project provides these children with shoes, emergency care and hygiene kits, as well as assisting them with obtaining an education.
Usain Bolt also auctioned off a signed pair of his running spikes for the Small Steps Project. The money raised was donated straight to the Small Steps Project to help support their various programs. He was able to raise £1,550 (over $2,000).
The fastest man on earth also started his own charity called the Usain Bolt Foundation. The foundation looks to create educational and cultural opportunities for children. He has raised money in various ways including hosting 5k runs and selling limited edition t-shirts.
2. Kerri Walsh Jennings
Kerri Walsh Jennings is known for her unmatched career in Olympic beach volleyball. She is widely known for winning three consecutive gold medals alongside partner Misty May-Treanor. Her gold medal streak and undefeated Olympic record ended this year after losing to Brazil in the semifinals. Partnered with April Ross, the team was still able to win the bronze.
Using her popular status, she supports the Chase the Stars Foundation and the Lenovo Hope Fund.
Kerri Walsh Jennings created the Chase the Stars Foundation in 2004 which supports programs that directly help improve children’s health and well-being. Both Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor have auctioned off signed products to help raise money for this foundation.
The Lenovo Hope Fund supports the creation of new business in underdeveloped communities around the globe. Kerri Walsh along with numerous other 2008 summer Olympic athletes signed multiple computers for auction in order to help Lenovo launch their new foundation.
3. Venus Williams
Venus Williams is known for both her long-lasting successful tennis career in the WTA and her success as a singles and doubles player in the summer Olympics. In 2016, she was able to claim the silver medal alongside American mixed-doubles partner Rajeev Ram.
She has used her success to support charities like the Serena Williams Fund. Her younger sister, Serena Williams is known for winning the gold medal in both singles and doubles (partnered with Venus) in the 2012 Olympics but failed to medal in Rio.
The Serena Williams Foundation looks to help communities around the world affected by violence and help improve the access to equal education.
Although it is called the Serena Williams Foundation, Venus plays a huge role in helping to raise money by donating her own profits and speaking out about global problems that need to be solved. The money, through the Serena Williams Foundation, goes to programs that will help improve education and decrease violence. These programs include Build Africa Schools which helps improve education in Africa and The Caliber Foundation which helps rid streets of illegal guns.
4. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is a professional basketball player who played on the United States’ summer Olympic team. He has created a huge fan base in his 13-year career, bouncing from team to team. Currently, he is a star player with the New York Knicks.
He won many medals in his time with the U.S. Olympic team and is the all-time leading scorer.
Carmelo Anthony is a successful humanitarian athlete. He supports Soles4Souls which distributes shoes to people in need regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or class. The charity collects shoes from donors and warehouses and distributes them throughout the world.
Since 2006, Soles4Souls has donated 26 million pairs of shoes throughout 127 countries. Carmelo Anthony has auctioned off his shoes for the cause in order to help raise both money and awareness for the foundation.
In 2020, more Olympic stars will be born. Hopefully, they too will use their fame and fortune to turn themselves into not just successful athletes, but humanitarian athletes.
– Casey Marx