Celebrities, George Michael, Nurses, and Healthcare Charities

By Kathleen Colduvell RN, BSN, BA, CBC

Fame. Fortune. Celebrities.

These three words have one thing in common: endless possibilities for healthcare charities. The public demand for cures to cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other lifelong diseases continues to rise.

However, government and public funding is often unable to fully support this rising need. Without fundraising and donations from high profile celebrities, these nonprofit organizations are often not able to fully fund innovative research and initiatives.

Celebrities not only support these medical charities, but they also support the nurses on the forefront of the healthcare profession.


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George Michael Loved Nurses

While it wasn’t disclosed until after his death, the British singer George Michael had a deep admiration for nurses, stemming from the 1997 death of his mother due to cancer.

First reported in The Guardian,  it was revealed that George Michael performed a free concert for nurses as an expression of gratitude for the care and dedication they provided to his then deceased mother. He also made various personal donations to working nurses and nursing students.

Most of the world knew about George Michael’s personal life and his dedication to the LGBTQ community. However, it wasn’t until his untimely demise that his love of nurses and philanthropy towards them was discovered.

While George Michael was private about his monetary contributions to certain organizations, it would have been helpful to nurses and charities alike if that information had come to light prior to his death.

One lingering question remains: if George Michael loved, respected, and admired nurses, why not make this information public?

He was extremely forthcoming regarding other issues, but why not this one? Why was it a secret until the end? His love of nurses and his commitment towards them could have helped other celebrities fully comprehend the importance of nurses and the work they do on a daily basis.


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Celebrities + Charities = Positive Attention

Celebrities continue to honor nurses for their hard work and dedication.

In fact, celebs such as Kim Zolciak of Real Housewives fame, award-winning actress Bonnie Hunt, country superstar Naomi Judd, reality TV star Kate Gosselin, and country crooner Paul Brandt were all bedside nurses before they became household names. Most still speak fondly of their time in the nursing profession.

While there are only a handful of nursing charities, Nurses House is a nurse-managed, nonprofit organization that helps registered nurses in need on a national level. Nurses House, based in New York, was founded in 1922 when Emily Bourne donated her mansion as a place for nurses to rest and recuperate. According to their website, Nurses House donated $261,000 to nurses in need during 2016. Donations can be made to Nurses House via their webpage; financial contributions can also be bequeathed after death. Nurses House offers monetary support to ill, disabled, or injured nurses.

Famous public figures use their celebrity power not only to sell movie tickets and products, but also to raise awareness and money for good causes.

Research suggests that positive attention from movie stars, musicians, and other celebrities can significantly increase financial support from the public. These celebrities are helping to change the healthcare space for the better. 

Without their support there would likely be large voids in research, prevention, and treatment.


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Minority Healthcare and Celebrity Support

As America continues to diversify, celebrity donations to minority healthcare organizations are also growing. Eva Longoria is the national spokeswoman for PADRES Contra El Cancer (Parents Against Cancer). Currently the only nonprofit  Latino program in the United States focused on addressing the needs of the entire family, PADRES concentrates on improving the lives of Latino children with cancer.

Since 2005, Longoria has personally donated and helped to raise over $4 million for this charity. Other celebrities that contribute to, and raise money for, PADRES are Constance Marie, Felicity Hoffman, Mario Lopez, and Lance Bass, to name a few.


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Cancer, Celebrities, and Nurses

There are hundreds of healthcare related charities to which various celebrities have donated their time and money. Stand Up 2 Cancer continues to garner some of the biggest names in Hollywood in support of developing a cure for cancer.

Over 225 celebrities have pledged their time and money to shore up the crucial work of cancer researchers and scientists. This includes big names such as Katie Couric, Adam Sandler, Bradley Cooper, America Ferrera, Jennifer Aniston, and Morgan Freeman.

The majority of these celebrities have all dealt with personal loss related to cancer.

Celebrities aren’t the only ones joining together to assist in the pursuit of groundbreaking advances in cancer research. Oncology nurses across the country are also joining in the battle.

A group of oncology nurses at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago decided to host an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” holiday party with all money benefiting Stand Up 2 Cancer.

This fierce group of bedside nurses knew that despite their passion for their profession, there was more they could do. The task was simple: wear an ugly sweater, donate money, and have a few drinks to fight for a cause and find a cure.

100% of the proceeds donated from this and all public fundraisers at Northwestern Memorial went directly to the support of groundbreaking cancer research.

Nurses’ charities are just beginning to emerge in support of those who serve in the healthcare professions. While some celebrities haven’t always divulged their philanthropic work, there are many nonprofits to whom celebrities will lend their famous faces.

At the end of the day, some celebrities just seem to know how to give back.

Next Up: Read about the paths that led three influential nurses to this rewarding career.

Kathleen Colduvell RN, BSN, BA, CBC graduated with a degree in english and journalism before going back to nursing school. After graduating from Villanova University, she became a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse. Currently, she works at one of the leading children’s hospitals in the country in the NICU, PICU, and CICU, as well as working as a Certified Breastfeeding Consultant.

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