All over the world, people are using the platform of sports to make a difference, from an NBA player who saved a life to a young man who completed a unique trip around the world for charity. They are a welcome change to the negative stories that can sometimes dominate the sports headlines. Here is a look at some of the athletes making a difference:
NBA Player Saves Woman from Drowning In Mediterranean
In 2015 alone, more than 3,700 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, according to the International Organization for Migration. Recently, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol did his part to make sure one woman did not become another statistic.
Gasol is part of Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish nonprofit that rescues migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East attempting to get to Europe.
Last month, Gasol helped in the rescue of a Cameroonian woman who was the only survivor following a shipwreck. The woman had been clinging to a piece of wood for nearly two days before Gasol and crew members of a rescue ship picked her up about 90 miles off the coast of Libya.
Gasol said his mission was too important to keep quiet and expressed raw emotion about the incident on his Twitter account.
“Frustration, anger, and helplessness,” Gasol tweeted, along with a picture of himself and other crew members. “It’s unbelievable how so many vulnerable people are abandoned to their deaths at sea.”
It was a valiant effort by the entire crew. Hopefully Gasol’s willingness to speak out will inspire others to get involved in saving the lives of those crossing the Mediterranean.
Warriors Star Wins Humanitarian Award
When Kevin Durant announced two years ago he would leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and sign with the Golden State Warriors as a free agent, there were questions from some regarding his character as a player on and off the floor.
In July, many of those critics received a reminder of Durant’s dedication to his community, when he received the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at a ceremony in Los Angeles. The award is given annually to athletes who use sports to create a positive impact in their communities.
The list of Durant’s contributions to charitable causes is almost as impressive as his play on the court. In 2012, he established the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation to help at-risk youth from low-income families. He donated $1 million to Oklahoma tornado victims in 2013 and has helped build numerous basketball courts for underprivileged youth around the world.
Durant received the award one month after leading the Warriors to their second consecutive NBA championship. Perhaps this will quiet some of his critics.
Marathon Runner Shows Strong Commitment to Sports Safety
Meb Keflezighi has won the New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon and a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. So why would he commit to run in a 10K in Alabama next year?
The National Center for Sports Safety announced Keflezighi will take part in its Birmingham Wine 10K race in March of 2019. He’ll also attend post-race festivities to meet participants and distribute awards. It’s a chance for Keflezighi to give back to the running community.
The NCSS promotes youth sports safety on and off the field. This cause is something that is close to Keflezighi’s heart. He started the Maintaining Excellent Balance Foundation to encourage healthy living and positive lifestyle choices for children. He made his first U.S. Olympic marathon team at the 2004 trials in Birmingham, so next year’s 10K will be a homecoming of sorts for him.
“I’m always inspired by kids who love sports and are active,” Keflezighi said in a news release.
Unicyclist Completes Round-the-world Trip for Charity
In 2015, Ed Pratt wanted to accomplish something meaningful after he finished school. So the 21-year-old left his home in Somerset, England, and set out on a trip around the world on a unicycle, and he did it all for charity.
Over a span 40 months, Pratt unicycled over 33,000 kilometers (21,000 miles), raising over $393,000 for School in a Bag, a charity that provides school supplies to underprivileged youth around the world. According to the organization’s CEO, Pratt’s efforts will benefit nearly 15,000 children.
“He left school in search of a challenge and adventure,” Pratt’s parents told the BBC.
He got both, and more children will be better off as a result.
From GameChanger and Stephen Kerr
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