From Mike Batell:

“Billionaire investor Warren Buffet is donating a total of $37 billion – most of his personal fortune – to a foundation started by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and to several family foundations, making it the largest-ever charitable gift in the United States” (Reuters).

We should all be inspired by this extraordinary act of compassion and generosity. Buffett, the world’s second wealthiest person, is establishing a legacy that other Fortune 500 CEOs can aspire to follow. “The impact of Warren’s generosity will not be fully understood for decades”, say Bill and Melinda Gates. Rest assured that impact will include millions of lives saved in the next several years alone. The immunization program the Gates Foundation finances has already saved the lives of an estimated 1.7 million children. Buffett’s added contributions will allow the Foundation to nearly double its impact. Years from now, when it has become clear that additional millions of lives will have been saved because of Buffett’s gift, his decision may very well go down as the greatest single act of mercy in history.

Gates and Buffett understand the contradictions inherent in a world where seven million are millionaires while thousands die every day of diseases that cost just a few dollars to prevent or treat. A bed net to protect a child from malaria costs just $5, and yet we allowed 3,000 kids to die of malaria yesterday. To provide a drug that prevents mother-to-child transmission of HIV costs just $4, and yet we allowed 1,400 babies to be born with HIV yesterday. A full package of vaccines to inoculate one boy or girl against the major childhood killers costs just $30, and yet we allowed 4,000 kids to die yesterday of these diseases.

It is clear that Gates and Buffett feel a strong sense of compassion for these children and their parents. But more importantly, they have taken that critical spent beyond mere compassion and into action. Rather than standing idly back as “innocent bystanders” while millions die unnecessarily, Gates and Buffett have determined that they are going to do something about it.

Large-scale corporate mergers are fairly common in today’s business world. But the scale of this philanthropic merger between the world’s two wealthiest individuals is without precedent. This story clamors for others to join Gates and Buffett in this historic partnership to rid the world of age-old childhood diseases. Fortune 500 executives: will you rise to the challenge? President Bush and our elected representatives in Congress: will you rise to the challenge? Fellow citizens: will you rise to the challenge?

As Gates once wrote: “It is up to us to decide how we want our generation to be remembered. For the internet? Or the war on terror? Or for finally deciding that where a child happens to live will no longer determine whether that child gets to go on living.”

That is what history demands of us. This is about who we are and what reasons we have to get out of bed every morning. Please take a few minutes to join Gates and Buffett today.

Learn more about the Gates Foundation.

Contribute to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria .

Raise your voice for global health and join the ONE Campaign.

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