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The last time “ER” fans saw Anthony Edwards as Dr. Mark Greene was in 2002, when his character died. But last week, Edwards reprised his role and Dr. Greene reappeared during a series of flashbacks to when he was still alive.

What would prompt the actor to reprise his role? Because he saw a way to help countless children in Kenya.

For the past three years, Edwards has worked with Shoe4Africa, a non-profit dedicated to empowering Africans by providing them with running shoes, educating them about AIDS, and – in its largest project to-date – building a $15M children’s’ hospital in Eldoret, Kenya.

“When your overall mission is to help and empower people, a hospital just makes sense,” Edwards says. “It’s an essential element of health.”

Warner Bros. approached Edwards about playing Dr. Greene, and Edwards agreed with the stipulation that the production studio would donate $125,000 to the hospital. The studio agreed and inspired others to donate, including a $125,000 gift from Steven Spielberg and $50,000 from the producer John Wells.

Edwards estimates the hospital will be built by 2010, and when it opens its doors, the 250-bed Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital will be one of the largest in the world.

Shoe4Africa also plans to build a sports complex and a shoe factory, while increasing their outreach in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Uganda, among other nations. The shoe factory is key, says Edwards: “Living in densely populated slums without water, clean food or shoes, many Africans are forced to walk barefoot on disease-ridden roads. Once infected with hookworm, a person is much more susceptible to HIV, allowing the virus to spread even more rampantly than it does already. Giving a poor child or adult something as simple as a pair of shoes can make all the difference in the world. Shoes are like soap, a basic element that we take for granted, but without which we get sick and die.”

Edwards has always been more than happy to use his celebrity to raise awareness, “It’s one thing to write a check to a charity, but it’s much more fulfilling to get involved.”

Edwards is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Shoe4Africa. He is also one of their Ambassadors, as is actress Natalie Portman.

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