NBA great Tim Duncan is really putting his money where his mouth is, as he returns to his homeland of the Virgin Islands to help in hurricane relief. This is Duncan’s third trip back to the U.S. Birgin Islands since September when two category 5 hurricanes decimated the island. Back to back storms Irma and Maria ravaged the small island nation with heavy rain, 150 mph winds and devastating storm surges. Now Tim has dedicated his time, money and resources to rebuild his home islands.
Immediately following the first hurricane, Duncan started an online crowdsourcing campaign aimed at reaching a million dollars and he even pledged to match the first million. What a bold and thoughtful move, especially since no nations were stepping up.
Duncan was 13 when hurricane Hugo ravaged his island nation, so he knows first hand how difficult it is to rebuild after this sort of tragedy. He vowed to help his former home and he actually is doing it. Many times when celebrities offer their help, its all show, not with Tim, he’s the real deal.
16 months after he retired from the NBA, Tim is surrounded by fellow volunteers as he sets up tables for food distribution. SOme of the people ask for pictures and autographs, but that doesn’t bother him, as long as the line keeps moving and the people get fed.
This trip Duncan personally delivered an entire plane full of supplies, food, and medicine. The kind of stuff these people need the most, so he knows just how important this really is.
On this day, they originally planned to feed 500 people but ended up feeding 2200.
Duncan grew angry over the US government’s lack of urgency with relief efforts, even though the Virgin Islands are an American territory. That’s why he started the crowdsourcing fund which to date has raised over $2.6 million.
Duncan said, “I don’t have a Facebook or a Twitter or anything, but holy s–t if social media isn’t the way to go.” None of this incredible relief effort would’ve even happened without Tim’s initial push.
Duncan didn’t just rush into this because he wanted to do it right. We have all heard horror stories about charities trying to help but end up failing miserably. He wouldn’t let this happen so he got help from his trusted advisor Wendy Kowalik.
Wendy interviewed San Antonio food banks to figure out the best ways to get bulk food and she researched airplane charters to get the food and supplies to the Virgin Islands.
So far Duncan alone has helped feed 10,000 of the islands’ 50,000 inhabitants and he has only gotten started. He said, “Sh*t happens, and you fix it…”
Duncan went on to say, “It’s only been a month and already people are forgetting about Harvey and what happened to Houston.” He continued, “Six months from now, people will forget about what happened here, even if there’s still no power on the islands. People have lost their homes and they’ve lost their shops. They’ve lost everything. Buildings are damaged and roads are ruined. I don’t know how to fix those things, but I didn’t know how to raise money or do food distribution or charter jets, and we figured all that out. We’ll figure this out, too. We’ll figure out how to rebuild the islands.”