Greek Philanthropist Marianna Vardinogianni Passes Away at Age 80

Marianna Vardinogianni, an Unesco Goodwill Ambassador and active in many charities, passed away at the age of 80 in Athens on Monday.

She was married to Greek shipping magnate Vardis Vardinogiannis, a Greek billionaire oil and shipping businessman who is the chairman and controlling shareholder of Motor Oil Hellas, Vegas Oil and Gas and he is involved in numerous other shipping and business interests. Vardinogiannis was included in Lloyd’s List’s Most Influential People in Shipping and is also included in Forbes List.

She was born in Athens, Greece and was a mother of five children.

The death of the well-known philanthropist was confirmed by an official statement made by the Marianna Vardi Vardinogianni Foundation.

“It is with great sadness that the family of Vardis I. Vardinogiannis announces that beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, Marianna V. Vardinogianni, Unesco Goodwill Ambassador, President of the “ELPIDA Association of Friends of Children with cancer”, passed away on Monday, July 24,” the statement read.

Marianna Vardinogiannis, also known as Marianna Bournaki, was a prominent figure in Greece known for her philanthropic work.

She was a Goodwill Ambassador of Unesco, founder and president of “Elpida Friends’ Association of Children with cancer”, “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” and “Orama Elpidas Association” as well as board member of many organizations.

Her work was recognized internationally and had a wide impact as she was helping children not only from Greece but also from the Balkans, the Mediterranean region, Africa and beyond.

In 2020, she received the 2020 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize of the United Nations for her humanitarian work in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela.

For more than 30 years, she was fighting against childhood cancer saving and helping thousands of children to be cured from cancer. She was struggling for respect on children’s fundamental right to health and for equality to access the best medical treatments. Among her achievements, it was the creation of the first Pediatric Oncology Hospital in Greece, in 2010.

Married to Greek Admiral Vardis J. Vardinoyannis, she played a significant role in various charitable initiatives and efforts to improve the lives of those in need.

The work of Marianna V. Vardinogianni is internationally recognized and she has received many honorary titles and awards such as: Officer of the “Legion d’ Honneur” of the French Republic, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize of the United Nations, “Ripple of Hope Award” of “Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights” Foundation, Grand Cross of the Order of Beneficence of the Hellenic Republic, the Athens Academy Award, UNICEF Award, Grand Prix de la Charte de Paris contre le cancer-AVEC, Red Cross Award, Office of the Great Lady of the Patriarchal Throne of St. Mark (Patriarchate of Alexandria, 2008), Medal of Exceptional Offer of the Republic of Cyprus, and others.

At the awarding of the Nelson Mandela Award, she was deeply moved and said: “This extremely important distinction is in recognition of my fight against childhood cancer and my Foundation’s work to defend human rights in education and society. A real honor for me, but also for my homeland, Greece, and the Greek people, who supported the project and my humanitarian efforts. This award belongs to thousands of children who have been our source of strength in all our fights against childhood cancer for more than 30 years. Children from Greece, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Africa and more are our everyday heroes. In my 35 years of action I have always strived to offer service to humanity, to ‘make a difference in the lives of others’, he said Mandela in his wise words. Nelson Mandela changed human history, he changed human mentality and millions of lives.”