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Olympic Athletes Who Give Back

by Ana Frigo

The 2012 Summer Games are in full swing, and while our U.S. athletes are competing in London with dreams of bringing home the gold, a lot of them are more than willing to use their fame to help others back at home.

Here's how some Olympians, past and present, continue to inspire us when the games are done.

Michael Phelps, Olympic swimming gold medalist and founder of the Michael Phelps Foundation.

Phelps is now the most-decorated Olympian in history, claiming 19 medals -- 15 of the gold variety -- in the last three Olympic Summer Games. His Michael Phelps Foundation promotes healthy, active lives by expanding the opportunities in the sport of swimming, and supports a program with Boys & Girls Club members.

Hannah Teter, 2006 gold medalist in halfpipe snowboarding and founder of Hannah's Gold.

Teter, a two-time Olympic medalist, formed Hanna's Gold in partnership with World Vision to support projects in Kirindon, Kenya. The initiative is raising funds for a clean water project in the area; paying children's school fees; providing farming tools, seeds and fertilizers; supporting sustainable farming initiatives; and purchasing bicycles.

Scott Hamilton, 1984 Olympic figure skating champion and founder of the Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative.

Hamilton, a cancer survivor, created CARES in a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute in 1999 to promote awareness of the disease while raising funds for research.

Shannon Miller, 1992 Gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast and founder of The Shannon Miller Foundation.

The seven-time Olympic medal winner and cancer survivor leads the Shannon Miller Foundation, which focuses on fighting childhood obesity through education and raising awareness of the disease and its consequences.

Mia Hamm, two-time Olympic women's soccer gold medalist and creator of The Mia Hamm Foundation.

Hamm competed in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic Games. The Mia Hamm Foundation raises funds and awareness for families needing marrow or cord blood transplants, and for continuing the growth in opportunities for young women in sports.

Kristi Yamaguchi, 1992 Olympic figure skating gold medalist and founder of Always Dream.

Yamaguchi's Always Dream organization looks for innovative ways to fund a diverse range of programs designed to inspire and embrace the hopes and dreams of children and adolescents.

Angela Ruggiero, 1998 U.S. women's ice hockey gold medalist, four-time Olympian, athlete advisory board member for Women's Sports Foundation, and athlete ambassador for Right to Play.

Ruggiero supports the Women's Sports Foundation, which aims to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity, and Right to Play, which strives to improve the lives of children in disadvantaged areas of the world by using sport and play for development, health, and peace.

Rachael Flatt, U.S. Olympic figure skater at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.

Flatt has partnered with Reading is Fundamental to motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life

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