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Essay/Term paper: What is a hero?

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Position Papers

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When one thinks of heroes, names such as Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Mother Theresa often come to mind. These individuals have all helped society tremendously through their determination and unselfish deeds. However, we may not notice some of society"s other heroes. One such heroic person that comes to my mind is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Many people perceive Arnold as only a blockbuster movie star and not as the hero he truly is. People see the glittery and glamorous fascade of the actor but not the truly heroic acts of the humanitarian. Through his charity work, Arnold has truly touched the lives of those who are less fortunate.

There is a growing concern in the United Sta tes, where health problems are increasing at an alarming rate. The diets of many men, women and children are unhealthy, and lead to high blood pressure strokes, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, and mental health problems. The poor state of America"s health is a serious concern for Arnold, and he is constantly striving for ways to improve it. Arnold is an advocate of health and fitness as displayed by his own lifestyle. He uses his celebrity status to showcase himself as a living example of health, which encourages a healthy lifestyle in the general population. The fact that "a quarter of a million deaths each year can be attributed to physical inactivity" (Modern Maturity) is utterly shocking. I firmly believe that Arnold"s relentless motivation to educate and teach people the benefits of a healthy lifestyle can reduce these horrific numbers dramatically. Arnold was the chairman of the President"s Council on Physical Fitness and is the author of many books that promote health and fitness. Arnold began a fifty-state tour to encourage health and fitness by going to schools, meeting with governors, legislators and various community leaders. This tour took a tremendous amount of his own time and money. Nevertheless, he undertook this task to improve the health of people he did not even know. Arnold"s three goals for his tour were to "improve fitness of American children by returning a regimen of daily physical activity to the school, to increase parental involvement in their children"s fitness, and to promote community based fitness programs." (Schwarzenegger) His extraordinary effort shows his genuine concern for the greater good of others. Also, in 1991 and 1992, he organized the "Great American Workout" at the White House. He also delivered numerous public service messages to encourage fitness. Employing the resources (high profile, money, time) that he possesses coupled with sincere concern for the general public, he has had a positive impact on the general health of Americans. Arnold has tried to eliminate the stereotype that one "must engage in vigorous exercise to reap health benefits" (Stoddard and SerVass), for, on the contrary, even "moderate physical activity can provide substantial health benefits" (Stoddard and SerVass). Arnold brought the task of improving America"s health upon his own shoulders, and it is this concern for the welfare of others that make him a hero.

Arnold"s intense love and devotion to children is why he became the founder of the Inner-City Games Foundation. Ronald Reagan has the highest regards for Arnold and says, "he genuinely cares about people, especially children, and their well being" (Reagan). Arnold recognized that the future of America depends upon today"s young American people. He saw crime rates sharply increase among inner-city youth, and saw that drugs were becoming a large part of the destruction of America"s youth. Bright kids with great potential are passing their time by drugging themselves because they have nothing better to do. This is the reason why Arnold became involved with the Los Angeles Inner-City Games Foundation; a mini Olympics designed to help kids "learn to say no to gangs and no to violence and yes to participation and yes to sports" (Schwarzenegger). Arnold"s tremendous efforts have made the Inner City Games Foundation Program, which began in Los Angeles in 1991 quickly expand to ten cities. As the chairman and executive commissioner of the I.C.G.F.P., Arnold continues to improve and expand this valuable program and has said that "if you make good choices you are going to be a winner, but if you make bad choices you are going to be a loser" (Schwarzenegger). Clearly Arnold wants to provide these kids with an opportunity to make the right choices. Arnold helped to raise money for this organization by selling a personally designed T-shirt through his Planet Hollywood Restaurant chain. Arnold strongly sees athletics as a positive alternative to drugs for youth. Arnold believes that athletics will help kids "build self-esteem, and learn goal setting" (Schwarzenegger), allowing them to adopt a clean and healthy lifestyle. His deeds have helped countless inner-city kids to find positive outlets to spend their time, as evidenced in the case of Leslie, a professional basketball player from the Los Angeles Sparks. She feels "sports give kids a chance to focus on something positive and they are more likely to have better grades in school and more success in life" (Leslie). The inner-city games gave Leslie a chance to succeed she "just stayed focused to reach her" goals (Leslie). Leslie is the epitome of what can be achieved with hard work. Through the hard work of Arnold, sports have become more accessible to athletes like Leslie; the games also provide a platform for the kids to showcase their talents and to make them feel good about themselves, which gives them a goal to shoot for. Arnold"s tremendous work with the inner-city games grew from his love and concern for America"s youth. Tony Nowak, Arnolds' friend, says what he "admires most about Arnold is his love for children" (Nowak). Because of Arnold countless youths have been deterred away from drugs and violence and towards a positive way of life.

In addition to promoting fitness and supporting the Inner-City Games Foundation Arnold greatly supports the Special Olympics, which is a program of sports training and athletic competition for over one million kids and adults with physical and mental disadvantages. Arnold played a key role in developing the weightlifting program for the Special Olympics; he has worked with countless special Olympians and inspired them to participate to the best of their abilities. He said, "when you train with Special Olympics athletes, you go in thinking that you are there to inspire them. But the fact is, you feel inspired by what they can do with all those obstacles." (Schwarzenegger )

If a hero is defined by his or her selfless contributions to society, and through their positive influences on other people, then Arnold Schwarzenneger is truly an unsung hero. Through Arnold, the general population of America is more informed on health issues, inner city kids have been given a chance to succeed, and the mentally or physically handicapped are truly made to feel good about themselves. A real hero doesn"t care if they are noticed for their work, as the knowledge that they have helped somebody is reward enough. Arnold has unselfishly given his money, but more importantly, his time and dedication to improve the lives of others.


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