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Celebrity Causes

Celebrities have long endorsed products, and now many are using their fame to promote issues and causes. Shortly after becoming household names, many actors, singers and athletes establish charitable foundations in their names. They use their star power to increase public awareness of everything from diseases to political issues.

TV personality Rosie O'Donnell established the For All Kids Foundation, which gives grants to support the social and intellectual development of underserved kids. The foundation has awarded $10.2 million since 1997, much of it to established child care programs. eBay hosts a charity auction to benefit the foundation with the sales of celebrity items.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research hopes to find a cure for the disease by 2010. Television and film actor Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's, wants his foundation to increase public awareness of the disease and raise funds for research.

U2 lead singer Bono has been involved in many issues throughout the years and supports the work of Greenpeace, War Child and Amnesty International. His latest project is Project Red, a partnership with several large corporations to increase awareness of AIDS in Africa.




Daytime talk queen Oprah Winfrey used her celebrity to power Oprah's Angel Network. With viewer donations, the network has built 200 homes for Habitat for Humanity and sent 150 students to college. Oprah also gives a weekly "Use Your Life Award" to a local hero who improves the lives of others.

The National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance was co-founded by Today host Katie Couric. The group hopes to educate the public about the cancer, which is treatable if detected early.

The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation supports research to develop treatments and a cure for paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries. Reeve serves as chairman of the board and the foundation has raised millions of dollars for individual research grants and programs to enrich the lives of people with disabilities.

After directing the Oscar-winning "Schindler's List," Steven Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. The group's mission is to chronicle eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust. Spielberg is also chairman of the Starbright Foundation, which works with seriously ill children.

As more athletes achieve celebrity status, they are also promoting their causes and issues. Soccer sensation Mia Hamm set up her foundation to raise money for bone marrow disease research and programs for young women in sports. The Mark McGwire Foundation For Children works to prevent child abuse. The Tiger Woods Foundation works to help children accomplish life goals.

Many athletes promote awareness of diseases. The Mario Lemieux Foundation raises money for Hodgkin's disease research. Buffalo Bills quarterback Doug Flutie and his wife Laurie established the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, in honor of their autistic son. The Lance Armstrong Foundation helps people survive and manage cancer.

Beginning as a vehicle to help sufferers of HIV/AIDS, the Magic Johnson Foundation now awards scholarships and grants to inner-city students and communities as well. Basketball superstar Michael Jordan set up the James R. Jordan Boys & Girls Club and Family Life Center in honor of his late father.




   --- J. Britten

--- ed. A. Crawford

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