Barkley donates additional $90,000 to Angora Fire victims

Provided to the Tribune

When Charles Barkley donated $100,000 a year ago to the victims of South Lake Tahoe’s 2007 Angora Fire, city officials officially proclaimed a “Charles Barkley Day.”

After they received another check for $90,000 last week from the NBA Hall of Famer and TNT analyst as the 20th annual American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course approaches, the city may have to consider a designation as “Barkleyville.”

“Well, that was mentioned as a possibility,” laughed South Lake Tahoe Mayor Jerry Birdwell. “But the real story is what a true friend we have in Charles Barkley. He’s become part of this community, from beyond appearing annually in the golf tournament, to taking a true interest in the area and its residents. I just hope his political aspirations stay in Alabama because if he ran for mayor of South Lake Tahoe right now, I’d be looking for work.”

Barkley has mentioned the possibility of running for governor in his home state.

Barkley initially donated $100,000 to South Tahoe’s Community Disaster Resource Center toward relief efforts for victims of the Lake Tahoe Angora Fire. The fire destroyed 254 homes and burned 3,100 acres in a South Lake Tahoe neighborhood six miles from tourist center of town. After touring the burn area during tournament week in 2007, Barkley also hosted a dinner for about 100 local fire fighters.

“We can’t just come here, play golf and have fun, and act like nothing happened. These people need our help,” he said at the time.

Barkley has participated in the annual event 14 years and was moved to help the victims whose lives were impacted by the Angora Fire.

“While Charles might not have the greatest swing, he sure has a great heart. We appreciate truly his generosity,” said Dick Schwarte, CDRC chairman. “We hope this donation, and a little help from Hank Haney gives him good luck at the celebrity golf tournament. We’ll definitely be cheering him on.”

Schwarte said the CDRC will meet next week to decide how to proceed with the unexpected funds.

“It’s a nice problem to have,” Schwarte said. “Nothing has been decided yet, and the board will try to do its best so it’s beneficial to these people as much as possible.”

Last year, two trees were planted – one at Edgewood and the other at the fire site – to honor Barkley’s contribution. A presentation is being planned on Thursday of tournament week to thank Barkley for his ongoing support.

Charles Barkley, Tony Romo, Michael Jordan, Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Romano are among the 80 celebrities expected to play in the ACC July 14-19 .

Barkley, who also contributed $1 million to help rebuild homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, retired in 2000 after 16 seasons in the NBA. He made the All-Star team 11 times and is one of only four players with 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. He was the league’s MVP in 1993 with the Phoenix Suns, and he won gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as part of the original U.S. Dream Team.

CDRC was formed as a long-term response organization to aid South Tahoe residents affected by the Angora Fire. Founded in August of 2007, their mission is to provide support to the community by facilitating restoration, rebuilding, re-establishment and improvement of the lives and neighborhoods impacted by localized natural disasters.

The CDRC is scheduled to close at the end of July, and those plans won’t change, according to Carrie Reiter, who managed the office. Reiter said the CDRC board, however, will be active for another year.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling contributed to this story.

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