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Athletes Help Raise Millions for Tsunami Victims

Athletes from several sports have been working to help raise money for victims of December's Indian Ocean tsunami. Athletes are using their sports popularity to generate millions of dollars in aid.

Since the tsunami devastated the Indian Ocean December 26, several high-profile sports figures have joined the effort to help victims of the tragedy.

The U.S. National Football League has been running commercials featuring Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb asking for donations to a special fund.

Manning: "Southeast Asia and East Africa have been devastated by tsunamis that claimed more than 150,000 lives.”
McNabb: “But for those who survived the real struggle has just begun.”
Manning: “By donating to the World Food Program and other organizations providing aid, you can make a difference that will save lives and help tsunami victims rebuild.”
McNabb: “Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. Millions of people need your help. Join the team and donate."

McNabb and Manning are among several professional American football players and teams that donated to help the tsunami relief efforts. The NFL donated more than four million dollars and the league has accepted contributions from fans during the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisburger donated his entire check from his first playoff game, $18,000, to the tsunami relief effort.

"I am going to donate my game check this week to the tsunami relief and hopefully to challenge other people to do that too,” he said. “So, I just wanted to make that announcement."

The NFL is not the only U.S. league to help in the relief effort . Seven National Basketball Association players pledged to give one thousand dollars for every point they scored in a single game. The players, including Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets, combined to raise $263,000.

"This is sad, but it really makes me feel good that I am doing something to help others,” he noted. “And I hope that other people who are fortunate enough to give back, chip in as well."

Jermaine O'Neal of the Indiana Pacers decided to give $55,000 for his 55-point total in a game the week before his pledge.

“Whatever you can do. And I really encourage, whether it is $1, I mean obviously you cannot help everybody, but you can help somebody out there. You can make somebody's life a little better and that is what it is all about,” he added.

Major League Baseball's teams and players' union have pledged one million dollars, while the New York Yankees have pledged one million dollars from their opening day game against the Boston Red Sox.

Wimbledon tennis champion Maria Sharapova of Russia donated $10,000 to relief efforts at a recent exhibition tournament in Thailand. American golf star Tiger Woods donated $100,000 through his foundation. English football star David Beckham joined with UNICEF to help raise money.

"I am joining team UNICEF and so can you. Your help will make a difference to thousands of young lives," said Mr. Beckham.

The largest single gift came from seven-time world Formula One champion Michael Schumacher of Germany, who lost his personal bodyguard Burkhard Cramer and Cramer's two sons in Thailand. The German driver gave $10 million to the tsunami relief effort.

In Australia, an all-star cricket match January 10 raised $11 million through ticket sales, donations and sponsorships. Another all-star charity match is planned for Calcutta, India, February 13.

The International Football Federation has planned an all-star match in Barcelona February 15 with the proceeds going to victims of the tsunami. As of this week, it has been one month since the tsunami struck. Officials have estimated the disaster killed as many as 290,000 people.