Tim Duncan reaches initial goal of $1 million for Hurricane Irma relief and will match it

Tim Duncan has also personally pledged $1.25 million to Hurricane Irma relief efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands. (AP)

Future basketball Hall of Famer and St. Croix native Tim Duncan reached his original goal of $1 million raised to benefit recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma’s destruction in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Duncan wrote an impassioned plea on Saturday for The Players’ Tribune entitled, “Don’t Forget About the Islands,” pledging an initial $250,000 contribution and vowing to match the first $1 million donated to his YouCaring.com crowdfunding campaign. He achieved that goal on Monday afternoon.

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“I know not everyone can give, and that’s O.K. — after all, a lot of you just got done giving financial support to the victims of Hurricane Harvey and the fires on the West Coast,” Duncan wrote, citing his reluctance to speak publicly to emphasize how important the cause was to him. “But if you’re able, here’s what I can promise: Every dollar donated will go directly to relief efforts on the ground. Starting as soon as the weather permits, I’ll be chartering an airplane full of supplies from San Antonio to St. Croix, the biggest town in the Virgin Islands. And I’m already busy putting together a team — some from the Virgin Islands and some who will fly in from elsewhere — to help manage the relief effort.”

Duncan somewhat famously turned his focus to basketball when Hurricane Hugo, another Category 5 hurricane that decimated the Virgin Islands in 1989, destroyed pools where he was chasing his goal of Olympic swimming in St. Croix. In a heartwarming detail from his article, the former San Antonio Spurs star recalled how cans of Chef Boyardee helped him as a 13-year-old survive the aftermath of Hugo.

So, Duncan partnered with a pair of San Antonio-based H-E-B grocery stores to set up two drop-off points for non-monetary donations as well. The locations will be open for 12 hours apiece on Monday and Tuesday. They hope to collect everything from cots and cleaning supplies to water and non-perishable food items. The Spurs and San Antonio Food Bank have also made contributions, and Duncan believes they will have enough goods to require multiple chartered flights to St. Croix.

Tim Duncan talks about how you can help support those impacted by Hurricane Irma in his home, the US Virgin Islands.

Posted by San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, September 10, 2017

“I’m blown away by it,” Duncan said in an appearance at the food bank. “It’s been amazing. In this day and age, it’s a little easier to reach a lot of people, and people have come out from everywhere. I’ve looked down the list of donors, and I’ve recognized some names. … I’ve gotten support from the Spurs, H-E-B and the food bank — all across the board. It’s just been an amazing response.”

Duncan will make his first trip to St. Croix later this week and plans to directly oversee relief efforts in the islands “as much as I can.” He stressed the importance of “immediate and sustained help.”

Upon approaching his initial $1 million objective through more than 10,000 donations, Duncan upped his goal on YouCaring.com to $2.1 million in addition to the $1.25 million he personally pledged.

“We continue to be blown away by the responses to this ask,” an updated statement from organizers on the crowdfunding website said on Monday morning. “To have this funding be almost achieved with 11,000 individual contributions is beyond words! With that said we are making our first delivery of supplies this week and think we should challenge everyone for a goal that represents this ask best … let’s go for $2,100,000 to show #21 the continued love and support for the US Virgin Islands.”

Through his foundation and BlackJack Speed Shop business, Duncan also donated supplies to the nearby Houston area last month to aid recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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