Since the untimely passing of pop legend George Michael, numerous tributes have come out sharing the singer’s secret philanthropic ways and caring and compassion towards underprivileged people— especially kids and those with illnesses.
He championed numerous causes, volunteered at homeless shelters and fed the poor and donated— according to some estimates— tens of millions of pounds, to charities and individuals.
One organization, catering in large part to members of the Greek Cypriot community, was just one of those charities.
The United Kingdom Thalassemia Society (UKTS) raises awareness about a rare blood disorder that has targeted people in the Mediterranean region, particularly Cyprus.
The organization funds research for new treatments to assist those with Thalassemia, a rare disorder that prevents those who have it from creating enough red blood cells.
The UKTS also supports people with Thalassemia, a large population of whom are Greek Cypriots in the UK, with counseling and support.
George Michael, whose father was an immigrant from Cyprus, was considered the “patron” of the UKTS and for many years, according to the group’s Facebook post, was “the largest individual supporter” of the organization.
In addition to his regular financial support, he came to the organization’s rescue in 2005 when their computer system crashed and he stepped up to fund new systems.
According to the organization, they would have loved to thank him publicly for his major support, but he “always steadfastly refused to take any credit for his generosity.”
Maria Hadjidemetriou, a New Yorker who lives with Thalassemia, said that George Michael was so much more than a singer to Thalassemia patients.
“George Michael was so much more to Thalassemia patients than a singer, he was our benefactor, our most generous philanthropist,” she told The Pappas Post in a telephone interview.
“He was a gentleman who embraced a disease that hit hard in our ancient island of Cyprus. This touched his heart and he touched all of ours,” Maria said, adding that “his legacy will always live.”
Hadjidemetriou, who works as a real estate agent in New York City has lived longer than her own doctors told her she would. She benefits new treatments and longer lifespans for people with Thalassemia to generous supporters like George Michael.
She shared her story in a short documentary:
The UKTS’ memorial post on Facebook: