When disaster struck in the heart of Africa, many residents there didn’t know where they would get the strength to recover, rebuild or restart their lives after what was lost.
And few residents of Brazzaville, capital city of the Republic of Congo, would have envisioned the strength and support pouring out from Oklahoma City on Friday night.
The Thunder Community Foundation, which holds frequent in-game auctions to raise funds for community outreach programs, decided to donate all of its proceeds from Friday’s auction to help the people of Brazzaville after a munitions depot exploded on March 4, killing more than 250 people, injuring 1,300 more and leaving at least 5,000 homeless when neighborhoods were leveled following the blast.
In true Oklahoma style, support came from all sides, following the lead of Ibaka. The native of Brazzaville donated his autographed game-night jersey, to be presented to the auction winner personally after the game.
Even Tony Parker of the Spurs, OKC’s opponents for the night, gave an autographed jersey for the cause.
As the auction and a special raffle began before the game at Chesapeake Energy Arena, fans crowded the tables, putting in bids and buying up raffle tickets for a team-autographed ball.
But the fans didn’t stop at that. Many fans gave the money for the raffle, but wouldn’t take a ticket. Some threw in extra donations with their purchase.
One fan, Robert Chapman, gave enough money to buy 20 raffle tickets, then took the slips and started giving them to children so they might have a chance to win the drawing.
Chapman (pictured above, in orange) is a Serge fan who found the auction when he came to the game. Though he can only come to a few games a year, he made sure to pitch in for this cause.
Last year, Chapman came to another game when the Thunder was supporting a cause special to Nick Collison and holding another raffle. At that time, “There was this little girl next to me, and she wanted to buy a ticket. And her mom said, well, we can’t afford a ticket,” he recalled. So Chapman bought her a ticket and gave her the joy of a chance to win, while he helped out an important cause.
This year, seeing the opportunity to help Serge’s hometown, he didn’t hesitate to act again.
With the generosity of fans like Chapman, the Thunder brought in $16,000 Friday night, all of which will be donated to UNICEF for their on-the-ground relief efforts in the Republic of Congo.
Any fans interested in adding to the donations and supporting the people of Brazzaville in our extended Thunder family can send a check (with “Congo Relief” in the memo line) to:
Thunder Community Foundation
c/o Christine Berney
Two Leadership Square
211 N. Robinson Ave., Suite 300
Oklahoma City, OK 73102