20 Celebs Who Helped Fans Get Through a Tough Time

20 Celebs Who Helped Fans Get Through a Tough Time
Image: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Kylie Jenner
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Plenty of celebrities give encouragement to fans on social media, but usually, it's general advice about staying true to themselves, not being afraid to talk about their mental health, or taking steps to be a better partner -- or a better parent. A lot of times, the advice is actually good and goes hand in hand with the message in their music or their TV or film work. And often, it resonates with fans who look up to them. But some stars are great at connecting with their fans on another, more personal level, especially when the fans are going through something huge and heavy. These celebs are the ones who DM fans to find out how they can help them deal with coming out, or make a life-changing donation on their GoFundMe page, or fly out to their bedside when they're seriously ill. In some cases, they've even stopped an onstage performance cold to help with a health scare or other issue happening to the fan right at that moment. And in doing so, they show a type of generosity and humanity in some ways deeper than a donation to a charity.

At a time when social media makes it look to fans like celebs are just a few taps away, some celebrities prove them right. They're totally aware of the impact their words, actions, and large bank account can have. Imagine having a problem so bad that we think only a celeb who has proven herself to be an ally will listen, and when we reach out -- and they lend one-on-one support -- oh the feels. Or imagine starting a playful exchange with our favorite singer about student loans, and then they pay our college tuition. 

Both of those exchanges have happened -- and frankly, they're refreshing and restore our faith in the positive power of celebrity. 

Sure, we can make the argument that people shouldn't have to struggle to pay for medical bills in the first place, or pay for classroom supplies if they're teachers. We could even argue that celebrities who give money to fans get plenty of good, free PR for what is really pocket change for them. But considering that there are lots of celebrities who don't reach out to fans in any significant way at all, let alone see them through an illness, we think it's actually pretty special.

... just like the following 20 celebs, who helped fans get through a tough time.

  • Rihanna

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    Rihanna
    Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

    Rihanna is a world-class philanthropist, but she also takes time to help fans individually. The singer, who knows what it's like to be bullied, didn't just give a struggling gay fan who reached out to her on Twitter a platitude-filled answer. Nope. She actually got involved, checking in with him via text and offering advice and encouragement as he gradually told his friends and family about his sexuality. "Stanning for you was the best decision I've ever made," he texted Rihanna.  

  • Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

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    Dwayne The Rock Johnson
    Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance via Getty Images

    A 7-year-old cancer patient nicknamed Tater started a social media campaign to meet his idol, The Rock, whose positive attitude he credited for helping him through treatment and surgeries. When the action and comedy star found out about it, The Rock arranged to have Tater flown out to Georgia, where he was filming the Baywatch movie. They hung out, talked, and took pictures on set between takes. When Tater passed away a few months later, Johnson posted a heartfelt letter on Instagram.

  • Justin Bieber

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    Justin Bieber once threw a quinceañera party for a fan. (OK?!) The girl, named Ashley, had to cancel her sweet 15 party after contracting meningitis, so Bieber went to her home in Oxnard, California, with cameras from the now-defunct Fox show, Knock Knock Live, and took several quinceañera dresses for her to choose from. Then they drove to a surprise party he'd arranged, where her friends and family were waiting. Ashley even go to slow dance with Bieber.

  • Nicki MInaj

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    When a fan half-jokingly asked Nicki Minaj if she'd pay for his tuition on Twitter, she said yes -- as long as he could produce evidence of straight A's. She went further, announcing that the rapper would do the same for other fans with great grades. She ended up clearing thousands in tuition and book fees, as well as student loans.  

  • Meghan Markle

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    Meghan Markle
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    Before Meghan Markle was a duchess helping people on a big scale through charity work, as an actress, she had significant interaction with fans via social media. One superfan named Emily Sorrells, who regularly read Markle's blog, exchanged numerous messages with the then-Suits star, in which she said helped her overcome anxiety and self-doubt. They later arranged to meet at an event, chatted, and took pictures together. The future Duchess of Sussex handed over a handwritten thank-you letter, in which she also congratulated Emily on taking chances in her life. 

  • Eminem

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    A 17-year-old Eminem fan with a rare form of bone cancer, who was told he had a week to live, had one request: to meet Eminem. A wish-granting nonprofit worked around the clock to contact Eminem, who flew out to meet the teen.  "He was the kindest, sweetest person who was sitting next to this child and giving him the one thing in the world he wanted," said a director of the Rainbow Connection, which organized the meeting. 

    "It was magical."

  • Taylor Swift

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    Taylor Swift
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    Taylor Swift goes out of her way to cultivate a close and direct relationship with fans, including inviting them over to dance and eat homemade cookies, and showing up to their baby showers. But she's also offered plenty of support to fans who are going through hard times, including donating $50,000 to cover the medical expenses of an 11-year-old fan battling leukemia. 

  • Colin Farrell

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    Colin Farrel
    Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

    While filming in Toronto, Colin Farrell made a homeless fan an instant $2,000 by taking him to a radio station that had promised the money to anyone who would bring in the Irish actor. But his help didn't stop there. He also paid for housing for the man and kept in touch via phone. When Farrell returned to the city, they spent a day together, during which Farrell took him on a shopping spree and gave him cash -- all totaling about $10,000. 

    They still keep in touch.

  • Keith Urban

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    Keith Urban
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    When a hospitalized fan couldn't make it to Keith Urban's concert in Toledo, Ohio, despite having tickets, her nurses reached out to the country music star on social media. He responded in the most touching way possible: by showing up to the seriously ill 25-year-old's bedside and serenading her with his hit song, "Blue Ain't Your Color." 

  • Katy Perry

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    PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images

    Katy Perry fan Grace Moore was ready to see her favorite singer in concert, but then the 8-year-old had to have brain surgery. Recovering at home, she thought she'd missed her chance when Perry herself knocked on the door. The singer, whose team had read about Grace on Twitter, sang three songs, and hung out. Perry even posted a picture of the girl in a concert TV shirt. Grace's big sister told reporters that Grace "was just in awe the whole time and just speechless."

  • Drake

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    Drake
    CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images

    When the "God's Plan" singer saw a man feeling up women in one of his concerts, he called him out on it and had security escort him out. Drake has also pulled off other types of heroics for fans, like 11-year-old Sofia Sanchez, who went viral for doing Drake's "Kiki Challenge" on camera while hooked up to an IV. She ended her video with a plea that he visit her at the hospital where she was awaiting a heart transplant. And Drake did, saying playfully, "You asked me to come. I'm here." He gave her his cell number and told her, "'Stay strong and keep fighting and you will get through this,'" recalled Sofia, who got a new heart and recovered. "It helped a lot."

  • J.K. Rowling

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    A Harry Potter fan who had survived assault, bullying, and attempts to end her life reached out to author J.K. Rowling on Twitter with an unusual request. She wanted to get a tattoo saying 'Expecto Patronum' -- the spell used in the books to summon a protective spirit -- in Rowling's handwriting. Rowling tweeted her a photo of the written phrase, adding: "I love that you're working to heal and protect yourself. You deserve this. I hope it helps." The grateful fan, in turn, urged others to use the photo for their own tattoos, and pictures poured in, accompanied by fans' descriptions of how the words, and Rowling's work, had helped them heal from pain.

  • Kylie Jenner

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    Billionaire makeup guru Kylie Jenner has plenty of cash to throw around, and on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she did just that. She gave a struggling New York mother and daughter $100,000 each to help pay their bills. Mom Mireya Almonte, an elementary school teacher who said she often bought supplies for her students, got an extra surprise: Kylie donated $50,000 to her school. Like her mother, Ashley -- who had quit college to help her mom financially and would now be able to go back -- was in tears. 

  • Miley Cyrus

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    Felipe Ramales/Splash News

    Miley Cyrus, who once brought a homeless man to the VMAs as her date as a way of bringing attention to youth homelessness, has helped in other ways as well. When Janice Freeman, who competed on Miley Cyrus' team on The Voice, and her family were about to become homeless, the singer stepped in to help, going from mentor to straight-up benefactor. She found a place for the family to stay until they found a permanent home, and paid for a deposit and six months' rent.  

  • Camila Cabello

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    Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic /Getty Images

    Camila Cabello helped a fan gather the courage to make a big transformation. The "Señorita" singer had met a person named Joey at an event, and the fan let her know that her message of self-acceptance had been inspiring. A year later, they met again, and this time the fan had come out as transgender, choosing a new name for herself that honored the singer. "She told me she was going to go by the name of Camila Joe and I kinda lost it with excitement," Camila wrote on Instagram.

  • Selena Gomez

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    There are some celebs who go above and beyond to make a difference in their fans' lives. Selena Gomez has granted so many wishes through Make-A-Wish that she was given a special award in 2012. Back then, she'd already met 90 kids with life-threatening illnesses who asked specifically to spend time with her, and she's continued to grant wishes since then. 

  • Lady Gaga

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    Lady Gaga
    Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

    Mother Monster's support of LGBT+ and bullied fans is legendary, but there are other ways in which she's helped her Little Monsters, as her fans are known. Once, during a performance, Lady Gaga noticed that a fan had been hit on the head and was bleeding profusely. Gaga stopped mid-song to make sure paramedics got to the fan as soon a possible. She also dedicated her next song, "Paparazzi," to her, and brought the fan backstage. "What we need to remember is that there are things that are more important than show business," she told the audience.

  • Harry Styles

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    Harry Styles helped a female fan come out to her mom in an unusual way. The fan, named Grace, had made a sign saying she was about to tell her mom she was bisexual, inspired by his support of LGBT+ fans. Between songs, the "Lights Up" singer gave her the last push. He asked her for her mom's name (Tina), and then announced, "Tina, she's gay!" Grace recorded the exchange, and later Tweeted that she'd be showing it to her mom. "Thank you so much for creating an environment where I am proud to be who I am," she tweeted at Styles.

  • Demi Lovato

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    Demi Lovato
    Rich Fury/Getty Images for Teen Vogue

    Demi Lovato has helped fans through the coming out process and encouraged fans to talk about their mental health struggles, offering free therapy at her concerts. So when the singer, who has been open about her struggles with alcohol, drugs, and depression  -- overdosed in 2018, her fans flocked to social media to share myriad stories of how she helped them directly or through her music, using #HowDemiHasHelpedMe.

  • Ed Sheeran

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    Like Drake and Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran stopped a show when he noticed something wrong with a fan. He was onstage, explaining the meaning behind a song when a female fan began to have an asthma attack, and he called out to medics. He attempted to jump down and help, but security advised him to stay away from screaming fans while they took the fan out for medical care. So instead, he hurried backstage to make sure she was OK.

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