SEATTLE, Washington — Much has been said about athletes in the news, most of it shines a negative light. However, there are several athletes in the world using their influence to help. The following charitable nonprofits were not only founded by athletes but are still working toward achieving their lofty, charitable goals across the globe today.
Pujols Family Foundation
Albert Pujols is a Major League Baseball slugger who spent most of his time playing first base for the St. Louis Cardinals before signing with his current team, the Los Angeles Angels. Pujols is an angel off the field as well for his faith-based charity work with The Pujols Family Foundation.
The Pujols Family Foundation focuses on two main goals: To promote awareness and aid families who have children with Down syndrome and to improve the standard of living for people living in poverty in The Dominican Republic through education, medical assistance and necessary goods.
Pujols grew up in poverty in the Dominican Republic, so he knows firsthand the living conditions of the poor in the country. The Pujols Family Foundation launched its first mission to the Dominican Republic in 2006 and since have been serving seven of the poorest villages with full medical teams and a pharmacy at their disposal, helping more than 18,000 people needing medical care in the 10 years they have been operating.
Roger Federer Foundation
Roger Federer is known for his serving and volleying efforts on the tennis courts, but off the court, he spends his time supporting educational projects aiming to help young, impoverished students in poor regions in southern Africa and Switzerland through his charity, The Roger Federer Foundation.
The projects are co-sponsored and promoted by nongovernmental organizations (NGO) authorities in collaboration with the communities they are affecting. Federer made it his personal goal to help one million impoverished children receive access to a quality education. Currently, the foundation is just shy of its goal, having helped more than 900,000 children receive aid through the Foundation. The Roger Federer Foundation works on the tenets that education is a human right that helps reduce poverty, improve health and enhance social responsibility. The foundation is currently aiding more than 300,000 children through its programs, most of them in southern Africa regions.
Nnamdi Asomugha was an accomplished cornerback in the NFL for 11 seasons before he became an all-star defender for another cause: empowering disadvantaged youth and women across the globe. The Asomugha Foundation aims to provide educational opportunities for disenfranchised youth and women and providing quality experiences aimed at creating spiritual, economic and social empowerment for these groups. Asomugha understood that in most nations, a woman’s social and financial economy is linked to her husband’s.
In Africa, HIV creates widows and orphans at an astronomical rate, so Asomugha decided to empower the women and children left behind by the deadly disease. The Asomugha Foundation built the Orphans and Widows In Need (OWIN) program in Nigeria. The program supports women and girls, orphans, widows and the disadvantaged in the region. Participants are encouraged to register in the program and learn a trade of their choice. They are given scholarships, business loans and other basic necessities aimed at empowering and enriching their lives and futures.
Most recently, Asomugha opened The Asomugha Foundation Skill Acquisition Centre in order to provide vocational training to women Nigeria. The center has currently enrolled 30 students in a 6-month training program, including career training such as fashion design, computer sciences and catering.
Dikembe Mutombo Foundation
The 7-foot tall Dikembe Mutombo is known for his work throughout the 18 seasons he was in the NBA. However, soon after his retirement, he became recognized for his larger than life humanitarian work in his home country of The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when he founded The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people of The DRC.
The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation has treated more than 250,000 patients since it opened The Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in 2007. The hospital houses a number of training partners from medical schools, such as The University of Kinshasa and The University of Lubumbashi, that send their fellows, residents and students to work in the hospital.
The foundation currently has two projects in the works, building a science and technology-focused elementary school outside Kinasha, the capital city of Congo, and to build a home adjacent to The Biamba Marie Mutombo hospital to house its many volunteer doctors, nurses, medical students and other volunteers working at the hospital.
Athletes for Hope
Athletes for Hope was founded to educate and assist professional athletes in aiding their communities and charitable causes. The organization was founded by a plethora of athletes from a variety of different athletic expertise including Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning and Cal Ripken, Jr.
The organization has grown to encompass more than 4,000 athletes from every major sports organization and the Olympic community. The athletes take part in educational workshops and guidance from experienced members of the organization. Athletes for Hope differs from the other charitable nonprofits founded by athletes on this list in that their mission is to aid other athletes in their philanthropic endeavors rather than working toward just one goal of their own. Athletes for Hope has a large network of corporate and nonprofit partners ranging from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Nike to the NBA.
These five charitable organizations founded by athletes are just some of the ways that athletes are trying to help alleviate poverty, empower women and provide education and medical attention to those in need. They set an example to what any celebrity could accomplish if they put their influence to good use.
– Nick Hodges