Fayette County

Local Haiti fund-raising totals rise

Contributions continue to come in after Sunday's Hoops for Haiti telethon, led by University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari, raised more than $1 million.

And bidding has topped $63,000 on a number of items being auctioned on eBay as part of the telethon, including dinner at the coach's house with actress Ashley Judd. The high bid for that item was slightly more than $30,000 by Tuesday evening.

Bidding, originally scheduled to end Tuesday night, closes Wednesday night.

Other auction items include an appearance on Calipari's television program, a basketball game with two former Wildcats and a "dream day" at Keene land Race Course.

Calipari emceed the Sunday afternoon telethon while players answered phones. They raised $525,000. Calipari said that would be matched by a group he called "Cal's Pals" and through the auction.

Royce Pulliam, who came up with the telethon idea Friday and sold Calipari on it, said raising money to meet the match continued after the telethon ended.

"It was just lining up people we knew we could count on" to contribute, said Pulliam, CEO of the Lexington-based Urban Active health clubs.

He described the donors as "a group of local businessmen" — he estimated there were 40 or 50 people — but he declined to name them.

"I don't think anybody's going to shed any light on who gave what in the deal," he said. "No one is wanting any notoriety out of this, including me."

Martin Newton, UK's basketball operations coordinator, also declined to identify the donors.

A committee that organized the effort met over lunch in the coach's office Tuesday to "wrap up" the fund-raising, Pulliam said. The group included Pulliam; Calipari; Newton; Brent Rice, a lawyer and developer; Luther Deaton of Central Bank; Greg Milward, an insurance executive; builder Ray Ball, and state Agriculture Commissioner and former Wildcat Richie Farmer.

Since the telethon ended, an additional $25,000 has been donated to the Red Cross through Hoops for Haiti, said Winn Stephens, the aid agency's director of development.

On Monday night, Murray's restaurant on Harrodsburg Road, which normally would have been closed, opened for dinner and donated the proceeds to the fund. That came to $7,500, and customers left $1,051 in a collection jar.

Applebee's restaurants in the area will donate 10 percent of some sales Wednesday through Sunday to Hoops for Haiti. To contribute, diners need to bring a flier downloaded from WKYT-TV's Web site.

Mike Scanlon, CEO of Thomas & King, which operates area Applebee's franchises, said he expects to raise several thousand dollars.

Stevens, at the Red Cross, said an effort by Fifth Third Bank, WLEX-TV and Cumulus radio has raised more than $30,000. He also said he had been told that Kroger customers have donated more than $70,000 as they check out at cash registers.

Lexington insurance agent Debra Hensley launched a Facebook effort to raise money for Haiti last week with Rob Morris of Lowell's Independent Automotive. On Tuesday, she posted this:

"Friends, we are up to $9,611.00. Rob and I are thrilled and amazed with the generosity of so many people from Facebook and beyond."

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