German-born footballer Mesut Özil ushered in the summer by tying the knot with Turkish-Swedish model Amine Gülse, capping off his sixth year as a member of Arsenal FC by celebrating one of the happiest days of his life.
The couple were wed in Istanbul, Turkey, and their social media posts were full of gorgeous pictures from the celebrations. But while they undoubtedly spent lavishly to make sure they and their guests had a wonderful day, the Özils made sure that they used the occasion to do some good for others as well.
Mrs. & Mr. Özil 👰🏻❤🤵🏻 pic.twitter.com/DxJdla17pE
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) June 7, 2019
In a touching Instagram post, Özil explained that when the couple was asked what their wishes were ahead of their wedding, they decided to focus their efforts not on material goods but on donations for a philanthropy near and dear to their hearts.
“Many fans have asked me, my close relatives and friends about our wishes for tomorrow’s wedding. As a professional footballer I am in a fortunate and privileged position. However, I invite everyone who is willing and able to help to support a very special project close to both of our hearts that we will undertake with @big.shoe11!” he wrote.
“Amine and I will bear the expenses for surgeries of 1000 children in need. I’d be happy if in addition, many more treatments all over the world can be fulfilled. If you would like to help this good cause, please clickthe link in my bio.”
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) June 6, 2019
Big Shoe, an organization that enables sports fans, athletes, and other big-name donors to provide funding for children to receive crucial surgeries and health-related treatments, is one of Özil’s biggest partners in philanthropy.
The German national midfielder took over the funding of medical costs for 11 children to undergo necessary surgeries in 2014, and has continued to work heavily with the organization ever since alongside fellow footballers Paul Pogba, Philipp Lahm, and Antonio Rüdiger. He donated the entirety of his winnings from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, a whopping 240,000 pounds (US$301,360), through the organization to specifically help children in the tournament’s host country of Brazil—and in subsequent years, he’s remained heavily involved.
Since 2014 I’ve been supporting the BigShoe foundation, which helps children in need with surgeries all over the world….
His wedding announcement, though, blows his previous contributions right out of the water. His goal, he stated, is to help the organization bring their incredible services worldwide.
“I have really taken the team at BigShoe and the passion they treat their young patients with to my heart. BigShoe works alongside German and Swiss Doctors to help children all around the world by providing life changing surgeries. Burns, club feet & clefts are medical conditions that developing countries struggle to treat due to lack of doctors, money and medicine.
“We have already worked together for surgeries in Brazil (Worldcup 2014), in Africa (2016) and in Russia (2018). Now we want to go the next step and help children worldwide.”
As if that wasn’t enough, though, Özil spent the weeks leading up to his wedding brightening the day of another young child in need.
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) May 20, 2019
Eight-year-old Callum Axford, of Essex, was given the surprise of his life when Özil invited him to visit the footballer’s home, giving him a tour and hanging out with the youngster, who suffers from a congenital heart defect and cerebral palsy. Even with wedding preparations to plan for, he took the time to help put a smile on a young child’s face—and with the financial aid he’s planning as well, it’s clear he hopes to use his fame and incredibly blessed life to help lift others up as well.