The Cause That Paul Walker Remained Dedicated to Until the Moment of His Death

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreportfolio/3369495546">andre almeida</a>/Flickr

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Paul Walker, best known for starring in the popular Fast and Furious franchise, died Saturday in a car accident in Valencia, California. He was 40.

It would be difficult to make the case that Walker was a particularly influential or exceptional actor. But he was a fine action star and was decent in his heavier dramatic fare. But beyond his on-screen credentials, all available evidence suggests that Walker was, up until the moment he died, a celebrity who genuinely cared about the world around him—someone who used his celebrity for worthy causes.

According to a statement posted to the actor’s Facebook fan page, Walker died “in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.”

Reach Out Worldwide, formed by Walker in 2010, is a 501(c)(3) that provides rescue and recovery aid in the wake of major natural disasters. The group supplements rescue efforts with its own team of paramedics, doctors, and search-and-rescue professionals. Reach Out Worldwide has lent its services to disaster-relief efforts in the Philippines, Alabama, Indonesia, Chile, and Haiti. “I’d made a few runs into Port-au-Prince and was negotiating with the army to give me baby formula, tents, extension cords,” Walker told the Daily Telegraph, an Australian tabloid newspaper, in 2011. “I was hustling for everything.”

Here’s his explanation for why he started Reach Out Worldwide:

Because of my travels with work and pleasure, a lot of the times disasters would strike in areas that I’d been. You think of the faces—they might not be people you’re in contact with but you can’t help but wonder how that family was you had dinner with. That stuff starts crossing your mind and you feel so helpless. I would be consumed with anger, like, “Fuck! I wanna be there, I wanna do whatever I can.” One of my best friends had heard it too many times and ultimately he just held me accountable. He punked me out: “So you gonna pack your bags and go to Haiti and help out or what?”

“When the shit hits the fan,” Walker continued, “that’s when you actually see the best in people.”

Hours, one of the last films Walker starred in, is scheduled for a mid-December release. It’s a fitting send-off for Walker: The film is set in a hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, with Walker playing a father desperately trying to protect his newborn daughter.

Here’s a clip of Walker and the Fast & Furious 7 cast encouraging fans to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan:

 

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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