SBD/Issue 86/Sports & Society

Tennis Players Hold Impromptu Event To Raise Funds For Haiti

Australian Open Event Expected
To Raise More Than $200,000
More than 14,000 tennis fans "swarmed onto the grounds of the Australian Open on Sunday afternoon ... in an impromptu show of financial support for Haiti relief efforts -- and the chance to see top players in an exhibition staged at the last-minute suggestion of Roger Federer," according to John Martin of the N.Y. TIMES. Federer said that "all funds would be contributed to victims of the Haiti earthquake." Federer: "It's something as a tennis family we're very happy to do." Other players included Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic, Lleyton Hewitt, Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Samantha Stosur. Organizers said that within 45 minutes "all but about 1,000 seats" at 15,000-seat Rod Laver Arena "were filled." Australian Open PA Announcer Craig Willis said that the event was "expected to raise more than $200,000." Willis announced to the crowd that spectators "had donated $20,000 in collection boxes and that Maria Sharapova had donated $10,000." An online "auction of the players' racquets was also announced" (NYTIMES.com, 1/16). The AP's Jocelyn Gecker reported the event, which was dubbed "Hit for Haiti," raised "more than $185,000, an amount that organizers expected would increase" (AP, 1/17).

DONATIONS CONTINUE: The NFL and NFLPA Friday announced that they would donate $500,000 each to the American Red Cross and Partners in Health to support relief efforts in Haiti, and the NBA and NBPA said that they will contribute $1M. Hendrick Motorsports said that it was "loaning an airplane and two flight crews to Missionary Flights International, which will send support teams" to Haiti, and the Redskins also are "flying medical supplies, personnel and clothing into Haiti with help from Diageo, one of the team's business partners." World TeamTennis is "donating clothing items for children through Kids in Distressed Situations," and the Lions are "donating $10,000 to the American Red Cross in the name of three" players -- OT Gosder Cherilus, DE Cliff Avril and CB Louis Delmas -- who are of Haitian descent. Former NBAer Alonzo Mourning and Heat G Dwyane Wade are "working together on a venture" called the "Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti" (AP, 1/15). The Suns have joined forces with Arizona-based Chances for Children to aid relief efforts. The team is making an initial donation of $20,000 and is encouraging Suns fans to join in the effort by making a donation to Chances for Children on the team's Web site (Suns). Meanwhile, Univ. of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari yesterday from 12:00-1:30pm ET hosted a "Hoops for Haiti" telethon "to raise money." The telethon was scheduled to air "statewide in Kentucky" on WKYT-CBS, and also could be "viewed worldwide on Calipari's Web site, coachcal.com, and on UKathletics.com." The telethon included an "auction, with items like dinner for six at Calipari's house cooked by the chef of the actress Ashley Judd, a prominent Kentucky fan." Calipari said that he hoped to raise "in the high six-figure range" (NYTIMES.com, 1/16).

HOCKEY FOR HAITI: In N.Y., Jeff Klein reports the Canadiens last week announced that they "were donating $100,000 to earthquake relief and would further match fans' donations." Canadiens RW Georges Laraque, "one of a handful of NHL players of Haitian descent," asked readers on his Web site to "donate to various relief organizations" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/18). Meanwhile, the Lightning are "teaming up with the American Red Cross to help Haitian earthquake victims." The team Friday announced a "cash donation drive for the next eight home games at the St. Pete Times Forum" (TAMPABAY.com, 1/15).

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