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Robin Williams' other role: humanitarian

By Pamela Dembo, CNN
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2032 GMT (0432 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Robin Williams was involved in several charitable causes
  • He toured with the USO and volunteered with St. Jude Children's Hospital
  • The comedian also served on the board of The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

(CNN) -- The sudden death of Academy Award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams has sent shock waves throughout the world. The 63-year-old was not only known for bringing laughter to so many throughout his career but for bringing compassion to his philanthropic causes as well.

Impact Your World remembers Williams' generosity by looking at some charities with which he worked.

Robin Williams' legacy: A big heart for charity

The United Service Organization (USO) was a perfect fit for the comedian. The goal of the organization is to lift the spirits of American troops, and that's exactly what Williams did. During his USO tours, the "Good Morning, Vietnam" star traveled to war zones entertaining troops from Afghanistan to Kuwait.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to curing spinal cord injuries, tweeted:

The entertainer and Christopher Reeve were very close friends. They formed an inseparable bond as roommates while studying at New York's Julliard School.

Williams was the first to bring a smile to his college buddy's face after Reeve's 1995 horseback riding accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. In Reeve's autobiography "Still Me," he wrote how Williams made a surprise hospital visit impersonating a Russian proctologist and was going to perform an exam on him!

The comedic actor was a friend to people of all ages.

Just like his "Patch Adams" character, Williams brought smiles and laughter to sick children. He visited kids battling cancer one-on-one and signed autographs at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

In 2006, the father of three was honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award at Celebrity Fight Night. The annual event raises money primarily for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix. Reba McEntire has emceed the benefit dinner and auction for the past nine years and recalled her favorite memory of Williams.

She added, "I will miss Robin so much, as we all will. Thank God we have so many wonderful memories of him, his wit, talent, big heart and generosity."

The late actor was also involved with Comic Relief to raise money for those in need, especially America's homeless.

He hosted a series of HBO TV specials with comedian friends Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg.

Comic Relief founder Bob Zmuda remembered Williams' generosity on CNN's "New Day": "Robin was the one from the get-go that was really insistent that we would raise funds for the homeless community. Robin was kind of born with a silver spoon in his mouth. ... I think he felt that he was given so much and that he needed to give back and he truly did."

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