- Title: ITALY: U.S. gold medal winner Joey Cheek gives his prizes to refugee charity.
- Date: 23rd February 2006
- Summary: TURIN, ITALY(FEBRUARY 23,006)(REUTERS- ACCESS ALL) JOEY CHEEK (ON LEFT OF SCREEN) WITH JOHANN OLAV KOSS OF "RIGHT TO PLAY" SHOWING CHEQUE FOR 310,596 U.S. DOLLARS
- Embargoed: 10th March 2006 12:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA3Z2LKMHSILWF86V0TXBPO9D03
- Story Text: US Olympic gold medallist Joey Cheek has presented Norwegian speed
skating legend Johann Olav Koss with a cheque for over 300,000 U.S.dollars for
his humanitarian organisation "Right To Play".
Five hundred metres winner Cheek surprised everyone when he announced
at his post-race news conference he was donating his U.S. Olympic Committee's
$25,000 prize money to Koss's group. His silver medal bonus for the 1000
metres has been donated too, making 40,000 dollars in all.
Cheek, who comes from North Carolina, said that he had become aware of
the situation in Sudan while travelling abroad and was moved to act.
Cheek said: "Obviously the region that I'm particularly interested
in, in the Darfur region of Sudan that I became aware of over the years of
watching CNN Europe which was not getting a lot of coverage in the U.S., is
obviously the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. And the Sudanese government have
basically sponsored militias to slaughter an ethnic minority, and again as
it's been stated but I think it's important to state again, that there has
been more than a million and half people displaced from their homes. The
nearest estimate over 180 thousand people killed, so while I was waking up to
go on a three or four hour bike rides training for the Olympics, which at
times is gruelling, it certainly absolutely pales into comparison to the life
that so many people on our planet live in."
Cheek asked his corporate sponsors to contribute too and the result was
over 250,000 U.S. dollars. With his bonuses, that resulted in a cheque for
over 310,000 dollars going to help refugee children play.
Cheek's success has earned him another privilege. The U.S. team has
voted for him to carry the U.S. flag at the closing ceremony of the Winter
Olympics on Sunday (February 26).
Koss, who has four Olympic gold medals, founded the organisation which
brings sports and play into refugee camps around the world.
After ending a sparkling career which culminated with three gold medals
and three world records in front of his home crowd at the 1994 Lillehammer
Games, and he also won gold and silver at the 1992 Albertville Games, Koss
needed a change of direction.
Koss "the Boss" as he became known, got involved with UNICEF
and the International Olympic Committee's Olympic Aid programme.
But in 2000 he wanted to go at it alone setting up "Right to
The idea was to battle apathy, crime and sexual abuse at refugee camps
with a sustained development and education of children through sport and
The initial number was about 700 children. Now with programmes in 23
countries, more than 540,000 children exercise and play at least twice a week
getting taught about conflict prevention, social interaction and respect.
The aim is to get up to five million children taking part in 30
countries and setting up an institute to teach the best practices of this
Koss's organisation needed to raise 17 million euros this year to keep
going but has now received a major boost to its finances.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None