Most celebrities give money and endorsement to various charities and causes at some point. Most of the time, however, it seems as though celebrities choose charities/causes that are entirely without controversy and easy to discuss publicly. Such causes are certainly worth supporting, but neither celebrities nor regular Americans should shy away from other important causes just because they may be uncomfortable to think about and discuss.
The prevention of child sexual abuse is a cause that few celebrities have the courage to champion. Thankfully, there are some who are willing to speak out and raise awareness about a problem that is often kept buried under shame and secrecy. Last month, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard came to Pennsylvania to speak at a fundraising event about his own abuse experiences and his efforts to recover.
The event was a fundraiser for the “Let Go . . . Let Peace Come In Foundation.” Leonard recently joined the foundation’s board of directors and the Philadelphia-area event brought in about $30,000.
In 1976, Leonard was a teenager and a rising star working to make the U.S. Olympic team. It was during this time, he said, that a former Olympics coach abused Leonard by performing a sex act on him. He carried the painful secret with him for 40 years and even turned to drinking because of it.
The founder of the “Let Go” foundation believes that Leonard’s celebrity status and his courage will do much to further the group’s efforts; including educating the public on the widespread problem of child sexual abuse. He noted that “this is not a Catholic church problem, Boy Scouts problem or Penn State problem. It’s a problem tearing at the fabric of society and decimating our families.”
In light of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the ongoing abuse allegations against local Catholic priests, Pennsylvanians need a message of hope. Thankfully, Sugar Ray Leonard is showing as much determination and bravery now as he ever did in the ring.
Source: NBC 10 Philadelphia, “Sugar Ray Leonard Raises Child Sex Abuse Awareness In Philly,” Sarah Glover, Dec. 31, 2013