| Schumacher: Racing ahead
Jan. 5: One plans to donate $100 to tsunami victims for every ace he serves in his next three tourneys; another has already aced him and everyone else by giving $10 million.
Seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher today raced to the head of the celebrity list of tsunami donors, pulling way ahead of even the world's richest man, Bill Gates, whose foundation has so far pledged $3 million but promises more.
'The dawning of the new year has not been as joyful for us this year because of the catastrophe in Asia,' the German star, personally affected by the loss of a close friend and his two infant sons in Thailand, said.
'We sympathise with the victims in their grief,' he added, after his manager Will Weber pledged $10 million on a German television fundraising drive.
Fellow German and tennis star Nicolas Kiefer followed up with a novel idea: 'For every ace, starting now in Adelaide, then in Sydney, and finally in Melbourne, I will donate $100,' he said.
And Schumacher's most famous Indian fan ' who else but Sachin Tendulkar' ' chipped in by confirming he would participate in the January 10 Melbourne fundraiser, in spite of the tennis elbow.
'I'm definitely participating in the match.' I feel happy to contribute towards the cause and do my bit. The occasion is such that everyone needs to be there and provide help,' Sachin said. There was no announcement of a personal donation, though.
Ten days into the tsunami disaster, the dollars and the euros have started pouring in. Movie stars, pop legends, sporting heroes and the world's who's who are banding together, playing fundraising matches, organising concerts, giving cash and even heading to disaster areas as volunteers.
Hollywood to Bollywood, the wallets have been opened. Only yesterday, Miss Congeniality Sandra Bullock donated $1 million. Titanic actor Leonardo DiCaprio pledged a 'sizeable' amount.
Today, Steven Spielberg's publicist announced the US film director and his family would donate $1.5 million.
'Although they generally make their donations anonymously, they are making this public to further encourage others to make donations,' he said.
Nearer home, actors Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta and director Karan Johar handed in cheques worth Rs 85 lakh to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The musicmakers, too, stood up to be counted on either side of the Atlantic. Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera and Tim McGraw have signed up for a benefit.
Cliff Richard and pop star Boy George are leading the British initiative.
After being initially accused of miserliness, the Bush administration is now anxious to put America in the aid leadership position.
Still, a German has ended up as the biggest individual donor when the world's richest man is an American.