Actor, director, and playwright Tyler Perry made a surprise visit to Finland Middle School in Columbus, Ohio, Friday.
The 43-year-old arrived at a musical concert and shocked the nearly 700 students and faculty by donating $100,000 to help student athletes in the city’s South-western schools. The South-western schools earned national attention when their athletics and extracurricular activities were cut in 2009. The clubs and other activities were later resurrected for a fee after a ballot request was approved by voters.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, Perry was drawn to the school after he saw a Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel report about Finland teacher Mary Mulvany, who started a foundation to raise scholarship money to cover the student athletes’ fees ranging from $75 to $150 per sport. Perry said he was inspired by Mulvany’s efforts, and wanted part of his donation to go to Finland and another part to go Mulvany’s foundation.
“Hundreds of kids will be helped by what he did today,” Mulvany said.
Perry said he wanted to sponsor as many kids as he could. The Madea actor, who was named the highest paid man in entertainment by Forbes in 2011, has made several charitable donations in the past. In 2009, Perry donated $110,000 to an Atlanta-based homeless shelter, Covenant House. He also donated a 15-passenger van to the shelter, which would “be used to rescue young people from the hopelessness of the street,” according to president Kevin Ryan.
“His generous donation will provide immediate help to kids in crisis as well as the long-term support that will transform their lives,” Ryan added.
In 2012, Perry replaced a disabled Decatur woman’s stolen van. The 24-year-old woman, Alicia Day, had her specially-equipped van stolen from her driveway one night. She called the van “her whole life” as it was her only means of transportation to doctors appointments and her part-time job as a greeter at Home Depot. When Perry heard about the theft, he called Day and told her he wanted to replace the van that same day.
Perry drove to R&R Mobility Vans & Lifts in Conyers, Georgia, where the Day family bought the original van 12 years prior. Perry convinced the manager to open the store (it had already closed by the time he got there) so that he could purchase a new van for Day. The family chose a silver customized 2011 Volkswgaen American that cost nearly $60,000.
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