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'Hoops for Haiti' raises more than $1 million for earthquake relief efforts

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MBSK 09_10 UK_UL Web 97.jpgKentucky coach John Calipari asked Big Blue Nation to come together and help the hundreds of thousands affected in the aftermath of a horrific earthquake in Haiti. Kentucky fans - albeit unsurprisingly - answered the call with one giant slam dunk.

With the efforts of Calipari, WKYT, UK coaches and players (current and former), local and national celebrities, the collegiate coaching community, local and national businessmen across the country, and more, UK raised $525,000 in funds in its "Hoops for Haiti" telethon, a four-and-a-half fundraiser to help the relief efforts in Haiti. With $500,000 in matching funds, UK raised more than $1 million.

Those figures were as of 7 p.m. on Sunday. Final figures will be released later in the week when the bidding for the auction items is complete.

"The people and the fans of Kentucky, this state of Kentucky and the people all over this nation called in," UK head coach John Calipari said on the telethon. "I don't know what to say. It's emotional. We just spent a day and all you people did it. I just want to thank you. Thank you, Kentucky."

Through the United Way and the American Red Cross, the donations will go straight to the relief efforts in Haiti.

"Right now, as we speak, (the Red Cross) is spending the funds," Calipari said. "It's going where it needs to go and that's what makes me feel good."

UK's on-the-court mantra for the year has been "One World, One Big Blue Nation." That theme could not have rung truer Sunday afternoon as the Kentucky fan base came together both nationally and locally for a nation in dire need of support.

"I've been saying for months that Big Blue Nation is full of 'crazies,' " Calipari said. "But after Sunday's outpouring of support, I can call everyone something else: compassionate and generous."

As players answered the phones, celebrities like actress Ashley Judd, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and country star Taylor Swift participated by volunteering to auction various items on eBay. As of Sunday at 6 p.m., the majority of the 11 items associated with "Hoops for Haiti" were going for thousands of dollars each.

The bid for the dinner for six at the Calipari's home with Ashley Judd was going for $11,100 as of Sunday evening, and the meet and greet with NBA basketball superstar Lebron James and Cavaliers playoff tickets was more than $5,000.

WallDance.jpgWith more than two days left until the eBay auctions are close, the biddings are expected to grow, only adding to the more than $1 million that will be sent to Haiti.

Kentucky native and Alliance Coal President and CEO Joe Craft, who donated $100,000, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who contributed $5,000, ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who gave $1,000, and former UK coach and current Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, who provided $1,000, were some of the more prominent contributors. Texas coach Rick Barnes and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo also donated. 

Former UK star Nazr Mohammed and Charlotte Bobcats center helped UK pass the $500,000-mark with a $10,000 donation before the phones closed at 5 p.m.

Big or small, every contribution counted Sunday, as hundreds of people called into the telethon or donated online.

"Whether you donated 10 dollars or 10,000, you should feel good about what you did today," Calipari said.

The private matching donators, "Cal's Pals for Haiti," will be honored at halftime of Saturday's basketball game vs. Arkansas, said Calipari, who contacted WKYT general manager Wayne Martin on Friday to organize the telethon.

"This is not about me or my team or the university," Calipari said. "This is everybody. The people answering phones, the people from WKYT who offered their time, all you guys. It's just a great, great thing."

You can still donate to the American Red Cross. Also, fans have until Tuesday at 9 p.m. to place a bid on the 11 auctioned items.

"I know we won a game on Saturday afternoon, but when I left the studio early Sunday evening, it felt like we'd all just won a championship," Calipari said. "It's amazing how good you can feel when you are helping others."

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6 Comments

the link for the items on ebay is not working, it shows 0 items up under that seller.

its nice..we have to raise in every country to help these peoples...
Sweden Study ..

"Cal's Pals for Haiti."

I need to get an inner circle like that for $100,000 spots!

Great job, Coach. Great event. God bless Haiti and the Big Blue Nation.

So proud of my home state of Kentucky and Coach Cal and the players and everyone else involved in Hoops for Haiti.........

nice work.Thanks for sharing...Like it alot

really greate effort keep it up

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Recent Comments

  • smink: really greate effort keep it up read more
  • seo service company: nice work.Thanks for sharing...Like it alot read more
  • Phyllis Herring: So proud of my home state of Kentucky and Coach Cal and the players and everyone else involved in Hoops read more
  • Jason: "Cal's Pals for Haiti." I need to get an inner circle like that for $100,000 spots! Great job, Coach. Great read more
  • Study in Sweden : its nice..we have to raise in every country to help these peoples... Sweden Study .. read more
  • Travis: the link for the items on ebay is not working, it shows 0 items up under that seller. read more