Celebrate Robert Burns - Honouring Scot Sam Heughan's Humanitarian Efforts

Written by: Holly Richter-White


He may have been overlooked in recent acting nominations, but I think Sam Heughan's charity work may become (brace for it Outlander fans) his greatest legacy over and above his role as Jamie Fraser.  And he's only just begun.
Sam Heughan is a rare celebrity. What is even more scarce is finding a lead acting duo, like Sam and Caitriona Balfe, so smart and so passionate in advocating for important social and health issues, who are leveraging their star power just as it rises to an incredible level.



Let's face it.  We live in an individualistic Kardashian-consuming culture, where people famous just for being famous lead the masses into obscurity. 



But a few outliers do exist in the entertainment world - leaders with substance and heart who inspire a following.  Such is Sam Heughan as a humanitarian.



Without invading his privacy, which he deserves to keep, I can only suppose that things quite extraordinary must have occurred in his life to both drive and sustain his motivation towards a cancer cure.


I do know that when you've watched family and friends struggle with or die from cancer, the lens through which you view the world changes dramatically. Some of us would turn inward and bitter, raging against an unfair world or inadequate system. Instead, Sam has chosen to champion optimism and raise research funds to help others find a cure.

He started out by doing what he could as a working actor. Leaning on friends and family to support his charitable activities as most of us do. But then it all changed. 

In a span of a few months, Sam went from relative obscurity to being famous. And now he leverages his growing fame for social good. Utilising his social media presence, he creates meaningful actions with amazing results.



His positive spirit and generosity of time with his fan club has elicited a huge response to help raise funds for Bloodwise. His fan club, the Heughligans, have, in small groups and en masse, organized charitable events and giving- such as “Dram for Sam”, Just Giving running, and proceeds from clothing, all to benefit Sam’s chosen charity, Bloodwise.

He didn’t stop there however, and created #MyPeakChallenge an initiative to promote healthy lifestyles and activity, which has dual benefits. First, it motivates his fans, who are mostly at the ages when lifestyle changes matter most in preventing cancer (leukaemia rates rise sharply starting from around age 45-49; some lymphomas are partially preventable). Second, through the partnership with UK businesses, Bear Strength and FightCamp, a full 50% of the profits goes to Bloodwise, in their search for a cure. Fans are encouraged through #MyPeakChallenge to challenge themselves to fitness/lifestyle goals and then raise funds for the leukaemia and lymphoma charity in return. 

Sam also mobilized tens of thousands of fans to support Cahonas Scotland's successful bid for a £32,000 award from Microsoft to continue their work of raising awareness of Male Cancers. On top of that he does public events and announcements for the testicular cancer advocacy organization.



Continuing in his giving-back spirit, Sam is an advocate for youth theatre, and is a patron for Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, a program that offered him the opportunity to work with trained professionals and discover his passion as a teenager. He is a vocal advocate and again, has leveraged his fame to encourage fans to donate to the youth program. He recently promoted Chrysalis an inaugural performance opportunity for youth at the Traverse Theatre.



And fame does not seem to have destroyed his purpose, his vision, or his love of country- the vintage memories of his past life have not succumbed to the next shiny thing. Sam Heughan does not forget where he came from. 



His deep love of his nation is obvious- he seems almost rooted in the Scottish ground. At every occasion, whether in interviews or social media, he shares his adoration of the people and the land, which has become almost infectious. Even Scotland Tourism has acknowledged the Outlander star’s help in the local economy, with tourism up 15-30% in certain locations. 

Along with his warrior/lover Outlander character, Jamie Fraser, Sam embodies the romanticism to which Robert Burns himself ascribed. The Burns era allotted great value to the achievements of "heroic" individuals and artists, whose examples, it maintained, would raise the quality of society.

As his fans already know, Sam is a true hero, a humanitarian, deserving of acknowledgement of his selfless and purposeful actions.

SlΓ inte mhor Sam! 

What do you think of Sam's humanitarian efforts and what are some ways we can help give back?

50 comments

  1. In general, I am not necessarily a fan of some stars who are vocal about their political and/or world view beliefs which they sometimes erroneously (in my opinion) wrap around some charitable cause. I tend to ascribe to the "Shut up and Sing...or Act...or whatever it is you do" philosophy. However, I do appreciate that Sam Heughan seemingly keeps his eye on the ball (or balls per Cahonas Scotland!) and uses his fame to raise awareness and funds for meaningful disease prevention and eradication. I could do without his occasional shout outs to the SNP and/or Syrian refugee situation, but that's my pet peeve, I suppose. It's interesting to see that Sam's work with Bloodwise, #MyPeakChallenge, etc. seems to ground him and perhaps that's also a very good reason why I hope he continues with these endeavors. It's a lot for a 35 year old, relatively obscure actor to get thrust into the limelight like Sam has and not to...well, just become an a-hole. But, Sam was and is a good guy. Raised right it would seem and has his priorities straight. I applaud him for that and hope he continues inspiring both others and himself to know that life doesn't revolve around any of us individually and there is so much work to do when it comes to overcoming heinous diseases such as cancer. Bravo, Sam.

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    1. I so agree with everything you said...he is not the usual latest thing. There is a quality to him that is refreshing and goes above and beyond his physical appearance. Good for you, Sam, for looking outside yourself and trying to spread the good things that are happening to you around.

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    2. I love Sam for what he does for all of us, and what he does for his chosen charities. My Dad died from pancreatic cancer, my best friend from high school is fighting lung cancer (and never smoked), another friend's husband died of brain cancer, and I have an uncle who died from lung cancer. Any movement we can make with blood cancers might help bridge the way to finding the cures for other cancers also.
      In my opinion, the situation with the Syrian refugees is entirely analogous to the situation the Jews found themselves in during the WWII era. Noone wanted to see or hear or help. Anything that is done to bring this situation to light is important. When I found that ISIS was marking the doors of Christians with an Arabic N for Nazarene, it was just way to much like the Jewish situation. I am a 59 year old white female in a very conservative community. I needed to find a way to help raise awareness, to be able to live with myself. I got a large tattoo of the Arabic N, and when people ask me about it, it gives me a talking point. A place to start the conversation. God Bless those who engage in this conversation.

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    3. Hi Anne,being born in Europe also,but came to OZ as a child(lucky me),we also get very involved in politics & all situations around the world,just like Sam I found that refreshing.

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    4. zsuzsip -- Just my personal preference that celebrities not get too out there on political views/issues. Just not a fan of it. But, certainly, I think it's great if ordinary/every-day (meaning NOT famous!) folks want to speak their mind about whatever it is that floats their boat. I do love Sam's humanitarian efforts as relates to disease, health, etc. and applaud him for that. He's doing some amazing things. As always, thanks for engaging with us. You are always so thoughtful in your comments when it comes to the Outlander Cast Blog and we appreciate that very much!

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    5. Well put Anne! As for the politics, I think it's a case of " you say po tA toe and I say po tah toe". I'm convinced what he says is not at all politics, but social commentary.

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    6. Well put Anne! As for the politics, I think it's a case of " you say po tA toe and I say po tah toe". I'm convinced what he says is not at all politics, but social commentary.

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  2. There are plenty of well-built celebrities in Hollywood. Here's to one that makes about more than just his image. It's fantastic that he promotes healthy living as a means to draw attention to greater health issues, and raise funds for needy causes. Both he and Cait have found themselves on a global pedestal (at least to show fans across the world) and are using it for good. It makes me love the show as a whole even more!

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  3. Love him even more for being such an awesome humanitarian and for not being self-absorbed like so many American celebrities!

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    1. Is it just American celebrities that are self absorbed? I think that's more of an international thing. Many American celebs do great things too!

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  4. Thank you for such a kind and intelligently written piece. Most celebrities today are put on pedestals for no reason other than their looks or athletic abilities. It's refreshing to see such a talented man who is so focused on helping others - and using his celebrity to make a difference in the world rather than stoke his own ego. Thanks for your article and thank you Sam for all you do.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment. Some people naturally lower the quality of society - Sam (and Cait and many of the Outlander cast and crew) work to restore my faith in humanity.

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  5. I'd never been a "fan" of anyone before. Outlander & Sam have inspired me to embrace life & improve my circumstances. I lost my Mother to multiple brain tumours in 2012. My sister & I nursed her during the final wks of her life. It was traumatic & I suffered severe depression afterward for some time. Through Engaging wth Outlander, Sam,& the fan base I have rediscovered purpose & my sense of humour. I am honoured to be able to support Sam in his endeavors to improve peoples lives, & enjoy being involved in whatever way I can. Rock on MPC 2016!

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    1. Can you read minds Railie? Outlander, Sam and the fans have given my life meaning again as well. I too was and still am fighting the depression that consumed me after my parents died. But because of Outlander, I have found joy again. Because of Sam Heughan and his charitable work, I became involved in a charity campaign that gave me one of the greatest experiences of my life and with it found out more about myself than I ever knew before.Now Sam is motivating me with MPC2 to get up and challenge myself yet again. Thank you Sam Heughan for giving me my love of life back! #TOTHECAR!

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    2. Can you read minds Railie? Outlander, Sam and the fans have given my life meaning again as well. I too was and still am fighting the depression that consumed me after my parents died. But because of Outlander, I have found joy again. Because of Sam Heughan and his charitable work, I became involved in a charity campaign that gave me one of the greatest experiences of my life and with it found out more about myself than I ever knew before.Now Sam is motivating me with MPC2 to get up and challenge myself yet again. Thank you Sam Heughan for giving me my love of life back! #TOTHECAR!

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    3. Railie & KitKat, there's something magnetically invaluable about finding a community you belong to. If that's happened because of a book, TV show or (humbly), this blog then that's the best validation anyone behind the show or within the fandom could ever hope for. Truly. Thank you for being so candid with sharing. It means a lot and we're right there with you! I love my Outlander family.

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    4. Railie and KitKat - first off, so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is difficult no matter what age you are. But, I am so glad that Outlander and Sam and this fandom has helped bring back some of your happy. I know Outlander has changed my life profoundly for the good/better. It's so wonderful to have such a kinship with all of you and to know that we share the Outlander joy TOGETHER. As a writer for this Blog, it's amazing to know that some of what we put out has touched our readers. Thank you for reading and for commenting so candidly. Please know it means the world to those of us who work on the Blog. Please come back and see us again soon!

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  6. Good for you Sam. You are doing good for so many, and like you I hope and pray that someday there will be a cure for all cancer's. It is a horrible thing to watch someone you love with all of your soul succumb to this relentless and unforgiving disease. I have one to many scars left on my heart from loosing loved ones to this bully.

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    1. Sam helping to raise money for research is true prevention : )

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  7. Succinctly and graciously written..."We" fans of Sam have seen past his physical appearance since the beginning...have always known there is so much more to the man...genuine, caring and feet firmly planted on the Scottish turf...He is going to be around for a long long time....(thank heaven)

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    1. There are many fans who don't "see past" his physical appearance and appreciate him as a whole. He is a physically beautiful man with a spirit that's just as beautiful. I don't think that Sam would want fans to see past his physical appearance. He works hard to stay in great shape and he shows it off to us (re: The Box Magazine) and we love him for it. He uses his appearance to motivate others to get moving, eat better. "We" fans appreciate ALL of Sam, inside and out.

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  8. Sam is one of those gentle souls that only come once in a while. His is the 'real thing' and his compassion for others makes him such an unusual star. He is one of the most grounded stars I have ever seen. He is so talented, yet he gives freely of his time to his fans. I look forward to seeing his talent take him to new heights.

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    1. I can't believe he does all he does. The man must be incredible busy. His priorities are admirable.

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  9. As somebody with ms outlander show has brightened some tough days. Edinburg Scotland I've heard has an ms center that's researching. It'd be great to raise awareness to this mysterious and misunderstood disease. And of course I'd love a healing heughan hug;)

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    1. Couldn't agree more with tough days made brighter. xxoo to you.

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    2. Plus, as someone with Epilepsy, maybe we could see some more awareness. As it was said before, Sam is one of a kind. I love Outlander & will keep watching!!

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    3. Plus, as someone with Epilepsy, maybe we could see some more awareness. As it was said before, Sam is one of a kind. I love Outlander & will keep watching!!

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  10. What a lovely piece you have written Holly!Sam really does seem like a lovely,compassionate person,I don't think he is very famous just yet (only with us OL fans),but I certainly hope when he'll be really famous he'll stay this grounded & lovely guy as he is now,not to mention he is a very,very good actor! I really applaud all his humanitarian efforts! He is doing great work,love him as Jamie,I could not imagine anyone else in that part.Stay as nice as You are Sam,certainly brightens my days watching OL!

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    1. Thanks for the compliment. Felt good just writing the article!

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  11. Reading all the comments I wonder if some have blinders on. I do like Sam but, to say that he doing wonders for being healthy is a little contradicting. On Twitter all he and others of the show talk about is drinking ,drinking and drinking. I don't think that is healthy or does it come across as being so. I feel a lot on the net can't get passed Jamie and suck up to that. . One really needs to be careful when in the spot light , you earn respect and that being said some of the actions and pictures are not showing good judgement

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    1. He said he was an actor & athlete supporting a good cause, not a monk.

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    2. Unknown -- Good one!!!! You are so right. Love witty Outlanderisms!

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    3. I think having a balanced life, of hard work and play, is showing good judgment.

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    4. Maybe but, he doesn't have to show the world. Not everyone will feel they way u do .. People will judge ..

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  13. How wonderful. I have never met Sam, but he has a way of making you think you have!! Support every chance I can. And yes, I am a Heughligan.

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  14. How wonderful. I have never met Sam, but he has a way of making you think you have!! Support every chance I can. And yes, I am a Heughligan.

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  15. What a lovely and thoughtful article, thank you for writing it! I think we're very fortunate to have such a fierce yet gentle soul share his work and passion for doing good things with all of us, he and Caitriona both. Rare gifts.

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  16. Sam is an amazing person, on and off the screen. He deserves any and all awards for his selfless good works and passionate aims to help others achieve.

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  17. Thanks a bunch Anne for your lovely answer I love being with the OL family!All essays & comments really seem like great ladies!♥

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  18. It's always nice to know that somebody more still cares about human living conditions. It's very nice what Mr. Heugan has chosen to do. His fame, his time, his will give voice and honour to millions of ordinary, unknown people fighting to help those who need. A warmly smile can make miracles for people suffering. I see in Mr.Heugan a very kindly beauty, I don't know him, but if it reflects the soul, it'a gift of god, for human being and also for the show-biz! πŸ˜‰✌πŸ”#ChooseKindness always. TY Outlander Cast for your brilliant look

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  19. why only women around Outlander? It's so weird! I don't watch tv or even series, my mate rented Dvd of OLS1 and he asked me to see it together! Where's the other men? 😊 Outlander is revolutionary, completely out of ordinary, above all for men. Claire, a woman, learn to love by Jamie, a man. #ChooseTheBest in your life #AskForTheMoon

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  20. How much were you paid and what were you hoping for from Heughan for this bag licking drivel? He's a person not a deity. Wake up and get a life. While people suffer from cancer in North America, fans from there give him donations for UK cancer patients. It's ridiculous. He's worse than shit for doing that because it means he doesn't care about the people dying in your own back yard. That could be you, your family, or friends. Pathetic.

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