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Olympic Athletes Champion Philanthropy

by Julie Schwietert Feb 20, 2010
Olympic athletes use sports earnings to fund projects close to their hearts.

Philanthropy among athletes has achieved a certain de rigeur status.

Though we’ve questioned his extra-marital dalliances, Tiger Woods has helped more than 10 million children through his Tiger Woods Foundation, which focuses on youth development.

Magic Johnson has used his celebrity athlete status–and the considerable fortune it brought him–to establish the Magic Johnson Foundation, which supports community-based organizations in urban neighborhoods around the United States.

Tennis great Billie Jean King is another philanthropist, responsible for establishing multiple foundations, including the Women’s Sports Foundation, which advocates for women’s equality in sports.

And Olympic athletes have long been involved in philanthropic work, too.

Soccer superstar Mia Hamm started her own foundation. In addition to promoting opportunities for girls and women in sports, the Mia Hamm Foundation is also involved in raising awareness and money for bone marrow disease research, and to support families involved in the marrow transplant process.

Ice skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation works to provide funding for existing programs providing services to children.

This year’s Olympians are no exception.

Snowboarding favorite Shaun White, popular for his youth, cheerful attitude, and his shock of red hair, has also been spotlighted for his charitable work with the Tony Hawk Foundation, Heartgift, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Summit on the Summit.

Hannah Teter, the 2006 women’s gold medalist in half-pipe snowboarding, also has a foundation, Hannah’s Gold, which sponsors the town of Kirindon, Kenya, providing residents with clean water, health services, and educational opportunities.

What other stories have you heard about Olympians doing good? Share your favorite in the comments!

Community Connection:

If you haven’t had a chance to catch any Olympic action, MatadorSports has a round up of the first week of events.

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