Bill Gates, Hero – Nerd

bill gates


When a couple of nerds, Bill Gates, and Paul Allen, founded Microsoft in 1975, they didn’t know what they were getting into.  Paul Allen, after a battle with Hodgkin’s disease, eventually resigned from Microsoft in November 2000.  Bill Gates, still Chairman of the Board of Microsoft, has a new goal in life.  He may be the hero – nerd.

Gates, and wife Melinda, co-founded the “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”.  Theirs is the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world.

His passions run to a wide area of medical conditions.  His attempt to eradicate polio sits at the top of a large agenda.  NPR, which is funded by Gates’ foundation, asked him an interesting question.

“Why not just settle for the huge drop in polio cases that we’ve seen over the past decade and then spend money on other things that kill so many more kids, like diarrhea and malnutrition?”

“Polio is special,” Gates tells NPR’s Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. “Once you get it done, you save $2 billion a year that will be applied to those other activities. There’s no better deal economically to getting to zero.”

“Polio alone, for the last year, has been the majority of my time because we we’re having to really decide: Do we double down? Do we do this right?” he says.

He estimates that the cost will be 5.5 billion dollars, and will take about six years.  At present, the disease is active in only three countries, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But defeating polio is not his only concern.  So far his foundation has donated more than $26 billion dollars to philanthropic causes.

November 2006 – he and his wife were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle for their philanthropic work around the world in the areas of health and education, particularly in Mexico.

April 1, 2009 – Gates announces a partnership with the Chinese Ministry of Health to help fight an epidemic of tuberculosis in China, supported by a $33 million grant provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

January 29, 2010 – Gates Foundation announces it will donate $10 billion for vaccine research over the next ten years.

December 9, 2010 – Gates, investor Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s CEO) signed a promise they called the “Gates-Buffet Giving Pledge”, in which they promised to donate to charity at least half of their wealth over the course of time.

Gates was in the Nation’s Capital this week, talking up his plan for Polio.  He also discussed new farming methods and genetically modified seeds as an answer for hunger in Africa, whose staple crops were neglected in earlier research.

“It’s all about innovation,” Gates told POLITICO. “Now that I am focused on the poorest, in some ways, you could say the innovation is more basic.”

And that’s the one word that describes Gates best, innovation.  From Microsoft, to the drought ridden fields of Africa, his mission is to find new ways, new materials, and new machines to help destroy disease, famine, and extreme poverty.

I don’t know about you, but Bill Gates is certainly a hero in my books. And I’m fairly sure, most nerds share my sentiment.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express

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