Lending his celebrity and giving his coin for a number of causes over the years, Ben Stiller has been particularly active on the part of Project A.L.S., the fund-raising organization established by theater producer Jenifer Estess to find a cure for the fatal neuromuscular illness best known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Estess died of the disease in 2003.
Hosting galas and donating money, Stiller has played a significant role in the org’s successful fund-raising efforts over the years. To date, Project A.L.S. has procured more than $37 million, with 81% of that going directly to researching for a cure.
Stiller, who received the org’s first Jenifer Estess Award three years ago, became involved when the founder — who was a friend — contacted him directly shortly after she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
“I think when I was younger, I was more cynical about this kind of (philanthropic work),” he says. “I’ve come to realize over the years that you should do anything you can to draw attention to a cause like this. I have a lot of respect for people like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who regularly take time out of their life to do that kind of work.”