Here’s your optimistic Hollywood feel-good piece of the day. Keanu Reeves, the Lebanese import that has shaped many uniquely American characters, turns out to be quite the philanthropist. He’s known for sharing his wealth with those he works with. Yet one of his most notable contributions grew from his sister’s battle with Leukemia.
Reeves has been a Hollywood go-to for more than three decades. Despite the studios’ penchant for type-casting, Reeves has played a wide variety of action roles. He was Ted in the Bill and Ted movies and Johnny Utah in Point Break. He then went in a different direction with Neo in the Matrix, and, later, as John Wick.
The iconic roles have made him rich. Yet Reeves reportedly lives simply and gives freely. Many attribute Reeves generosity to a mix of his early years and losses he experienced through his life.
Though he was born in Beirut, Reeves moved around frequently. His mother’s relationships were prone to failure, and the family would move–often to new countries.
After his successes in Hollywood, Reeves had settled down with his girlfriend, Jennifer Syme. Syme’s first pregnancy ended early, and the couple’s daughter was stillborn. Syme was killed in a car accident not long after.
The loss for Reeves was surely formative, yet it wasn’t the end of Reeves’ hardships. His younger sister Kim has, for decades, battled Leukemia.
Reeves’ financial security allowed him to play a prominent role in her care. Reports say that Kim went into remission in the late 1990s, though others claim that Kim’s fight is ongoing.
In an attempt to help his sister, and others with Leukemia, Reeves set up a private foundation that funds children’s’ hospitals and cancer research.
“I have a private foundation that’s been running for five or six years,” Reeves told the Ladies’ Home Journal in 2009, “and it helps aid a couple of children’s hospitals and cancer research.”
“I don’t like to attach my name to it. I just let the foundation do what it does.”
That is the true meaning of philanthropy. So many celebrities will give, yet there always seems to be an angle to their giving. They become the face of their movements. Not Reeves.