Celebrities who get diseases and then seek cures

This is something that I have always agrued with friends about. I am of the opinion that famous people like Christopher Reeve, Magic Johnson, Micheal J. Fox, et. al., who attempt to raise money to find cures for diseases *that they have * should not be revered in the same way as people who raise money and awareness for diseases and are illness free. I have heard people talk about what a great man Christopher Reeve was for raising money, looking to change legislation, etc. for spinal cord injuries. Trying to find a cure for the disease you have is what any human would do, I am not knocking him for that, and I believe he was a great guy who was helpful and giving before his injury. But his focus on spinal cord injuries was not a coincidence- he was doing so that he could walk again. This to me is not the same as someone who is healthy who works to eradicate diseases, poverty, etc. I know this is sort of a touchy subject, but was wondering what others thought on this subject.

To a certain extent I agree. Jerry Lewis should receive more admiration than Christopher Reeve. But even if their advocacy is based purely on selfishness, if they do help find a cure then it’s still a Good Thing.

Usually when I hear celebrities lauded for thier efforts to find cures for diseases that affect them, its for setting an example in how to keep up hope and not give up in the face of a horrible illness rather then for being purely altruisitic.

So while I agree with you that they should not be held up as being selfless martyrs, in general I don’t think that is why they are fawned over so much.

I don’t think the motivation should diminish the good that comes from the celebrity’s work. They raise awareness of suffering and encourage charity which are good things regardless of why they did it.

Does a woman who starts a M.A.D.D program in her neighborhood deserve any less creidt because her daughter was killed by a dunk driver? No, we say she turned tragedy into something good. Likewise, If I give a million dollars to charity does it really matter whether I did it from the goodness of my heart or for the tax write-off? The recipients still benefit either way. (It changes matters a bit if I’m seeking praise for my generosity, though.)

If anything, I think that a celebrity will be more sincere in their efforts toward a cause in which they have a self-interest. Any human would. Personally, I’ve always had more mistrust of those pick-a-cause-from-a-bag celebrities like Miss America candidates.

What they’re doing is still noble, and I don’t think the presence of self-interest makes it less noble. (Is anybody purely altruistic anyway?) If people are helped by their efforts and their examples, that’s more important.

Meh. I always found enlighted self-interest to be a great force for good.

How many shower-shivvings did you have to treat before coming to that conclusion?


Like when I offed my Mother-in-Law for the insurance money.

In Reeve’s case though, I think his crusade was still quite selfless because I doubt that he had any illusions that any of the breakthroughs in spinal cord injury research were going to be any help to him; it was more for what might be years down the road.

Except that by most accounts, Chris Reeve was a very cool, likeable individual and Jerry Lewis is a total bastard.

When he insisted he was going to be able to walk again, I think he meant it. He did a lot of physical therapy, and as I remember it he regained some ability to move his fingers.

Would Nancy Reagan’s support for stem cell research fall into this category? She never took up that cause until Ronny was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and to most social conservatives, stem cell research is equivalent to abortion.

I always got the feeling that he knew he was an inspiration, and “I’m going to walk again!” is an inspirational statement. But, deep down, he knew it wasn’t going to happen.

You might be right, though.

:mad: Disgusting!

Wow, I thought I was the only person who felt this way.

As others here have said, I’m very thankful that anyone is putting their celebrity and recognition into helping to solve some of the terrible problems the world faces, but where were they when they were fine?

I’m sure my attitude about this is affected by watching my mother spend the last 40 years of her life in a wheelchair because of a drunk driver, but I’m not sure how, to be honest.

You’re creating a false dichotomy here- you don’t know that these people weren’t doing good when they were healthy. Even rich and famous people can’t simultaneously fight every disease.

No, you’re right, I don’t know that, and you make a valid point. They could very well be doing things much behind the scenes where their celebrity didn’t play a part, but now their name and face and problem brings it more into the forefront. Of course, though, one might wonder why they were doing things quietly if their celebrity could further their other causes as well.

I sure don’t have any answers. Guess that’s why this is a Great Debate :slight_smile:

Actually I think a MADD mother who lost a daughter is selfless, not selfish, because her daughter is definitely not coming back. Same for John Walsh. He deserves nothing but praise.

But should our assessment of the acts performed be colored by that?

If an asshole does a good thing, is that act any less good because it was done by an asshole? If a likable cool individual does a bad act, is it less bad of an act because he is cool?

Lissa nailed it. It is the act that matters, not the motivation for the act.

Sorry, I should have included a smiley-that was supposed to be tongue in cheek.

Seriously, even before his accident, IIRC, Christopher Reeve was helping smoke out Scientology. That alone should earn him goodwill.

I also think his attitude of “I WILL walk again” was a way for him to go on, to keep him fighting.