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The Game Changers by Uta Abendroth | 5th January, 2016 | Personalities

Once they have made their millions, achieved celebrity, and lived the luxury lifestyle, some famous stars undergo astonishing metamorphoses. A billionaire eradicates diseases, or a Hollywood star fights for endangered animals. Five impressive personalities who have discovered that using their fame to help others is what really enriches their lives.


Melinda Gates

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000

She and Bill are both computer scientists when they meet at Microsoft. They marry in 1994. A newspaper article about deadly diseases in Africa inspired the mother of three to set up the world’s largest private foundation. Drawing on 1,382 employees and a 41.3 billion dollar endowment, it has been fighting world hunger and improving world health since 2008. With Warren Buffet, they launched the Giving Pledge in 2010, and have convinced 137 other billionaires to donate half their fortunes. With an annual budget of four billion dollars, Melinda Gates, dubbed the world’s third most powerful woman by Forbes magazine, plans to eradicate diseases like polio by 2018.

Bob Geldof

Band Aid Charity Fund, established in 1984
A TV documentary about Ethiopia was the catalyst for the legendary hit single, which sold 11.7 million copies in 1984. The ex-Boomtown Rats frontman mobilized 47 fellow artists to join Band Aid and sing for starvation-hit regions in Africa. “Do they know it’s Christmas” even touched the Queen, who later bestowed a knighthood on Geldof. Since 2002, the Irish activist has worked with U2 frontman Bono and the ONE campaign to draw attention to the problems faced by the developing world.

Christy Turlington

Every Mother Counts, established in 2010
Since the birth of her daughter Grace, the American, a first-generation supermodel, has been committed to improving the lives of expectant mothers. According to her foundation, 289,000 women die as a result of complications during pregnancy or childbirth every year. Christy highlights this crisis with the aid of long-distance runs. Why? Because in many parts of the world, a half-marathon is the approximate distance many expectant mothers have to travel on foot to access obstetrics services.

Jeff Koons

Koons Family Institute, established in 1994

He is a superstar among living artists – the one who transforms kitsch into art. What is less commonly known is that Koons is also a father of seven, and that he was traumatized by the custody battle over his firstborn with his ex-wife Ilona Staller, aka Cicciolina. The painful separation from his son Ludwig, who his mother secretly spirited out of the U.S., inspired him to set up the foundation. The organization helps to locate missing children worldwide, and to protect them from sexual abuse.

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, established in 2000

For seven years, the actor kept his illness a secret. He was only 30 and had just finished shooting the 100th episode of the TV show “Spin City,” when he revealed his diagnosis. The New York Times has called his foundation “globally, the most credible voice in Parkinson’s research.” Today, it is also considered the world’s biggest non-for-profit developer of medication for the disease. Michael himself has continued working – first in the ”Michael J. Fox Show,” and these days in other, Emmy-nominated roles.

IssueGG Magazine 01/16
PhotographyTrunk Archive