Aaron Rodgers donates $1 million to California wildfire relief efforts: ‘This is my way of helping out’
GREEN BAY — The Paradise Pines Elementary School — now known as Pine Ridge School — was fortunate. Preventative measures taken this summer saved the school from the Camp Fire that incinerated the town of Paradise, California, and much of the surrounding area.
On Wednesday, a kid who’d been a kindergartner at that school — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — tried to do his part to help the recovery efforts in the wake of what he called “a major tragedy.”
Rodgers announced a personal donation of $1 million, a donation he made after asking the mayor of nearby Chico, Sean Morgan, and other officials in the area how he could help. The Packers organization also pledged $250,000, and State Farm insurance, with whom Rodgers has an advertising partnership, agreed to make a matching donation up to $1 million after Rodgers shared the news via his Twitter account.
There have been 81 confirmed deaths caused by the fire and hundreds of other area residents remain unaccounted for in the wake of the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.
Rodgers, who was born in Chico, moved away from the area and then returned for eighth grade and high school, said the intent of the fund he set up through the North Valley Community Foundation is to assist in the rebuilding of the area and to provide longer-term help to those displaced.
“You have boots on the ground obviously with the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army. Golden Valley Bank (a Chico-based bank) has done a great job of housing money to be used for immediate needs,” Rodgers said, adding one good friend of his owns a restaurant and has been feeding people every night since the fire swept through. “So people are doing some incredible things coming together.
“But when all the cameras leave and FEMA leaves — you know, we had the President there — when the lights go off, there’s still a ton of people that need help. And that’s where we’re going to come in with the funds for recovery and rebuilding and the needs when these cameras are gone. … It’s going to take months and years to rebuild Paradise and the areas affected.”
“This is my way of helping out.”
Rodgers has historically tried to keep his charitable efforts out of the public eye, having once said he didn’t want his good deeds to come off a self-promotional. In this case, though, Rodgers said he felt he could bring “greater awareness” to the fundraising efforts, and that Morgan told him his involvement would also bring hope to those impacted.
“I talked to the mayor a lot about that. It’s just trying to send a message to those people that we’re thinking about you and that there is hope, because folks like myself, we’re using our platform to let you know that we’re here for you and we’re in this thing for the long haul,” Rodgers said.
“There’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind element that happens with a lot of people. It’s big news in the beginning and then slowly it fades away as far as the fire’s contained and you’re starting to pick up the pieces. But just to get people to realize, it’s a long process. The recovery process is months, it’s years of putting the pieces back together. I just wanted that to be on people’s minds and know that we need money and support and people thinking about those folks up there who are affected.
“There’s a lot of great people involved in this and this is just my way of doing it, and I wanted to use my platform to raise awareness that this is a need that’s going to be ongoing.”
To donate, visit www.nvcf.org/aaronrodgersfund.
Kumerow = Galvanizing moment?
Rodgers was smirking as he said it, but the return of former UW-Whitewater star Jake Kumerow to practice Wednesday — clearing the way for him to be activated from injured reserve — could indeed give the offense a boost given the connection the two had throughout training camp this summer.
“That could be the galvanizing moment,” Rodgers joked, referring to the postgame comment he’d made after last week’s loss to Seattle about the team needing such a moment. “He’s a talented guy and I think of us were wondering if he was going to be back on the field this year. He understands the game, he has a great sense about him. In space, he can get open. He was incredible in training camp earning a spot on the squad. Unfortunately, he’ll learn from diving in the end zone there. But yeah it will be nice to get him out there and get him some opportunities.”
Kumerow hit it off with Rodgers during camp and gained the quarterback’s trust throughout the summer. He’d caught six passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns when he dove across the goal line at the end of one of those TDs and suffered a shoulder injury. The Packers kept him at the final roster reduction, then placed him on IR so he’d be eligible to return during the season. There was no guarantee, however.
So when he got word Monday he was being designated for return, he was understandably excited — especially since he’s never played in an NFL regular-season game, having been inactive for his one game on the Cincinnati Bengals’ 53-man roster.
Asked after Wednesday’s practice if he can replicate what he did this summer, Kumerow replied, “Oh yeah, absolutely. It can definitely be replicated. I feel good. I haven’t lost a step. I’ve been training just as hard as the guys practicing. Being out there today, my wind was good and I think I can definitely come back and do what I was doing where I left off.”
Wide receiver Randall Cobb (hamstring) and safety Kentrell Brice (ankle), both of whom did not travel to Seattle, were able to practice on a limited basis. However, cornerback Kevin King (hamstring), safety Raven Greene (ankle) and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin) did not practice. … While tight end Jimmy Graham intends to try to play with a broken thumb, he did not practice. Throughout the season, Graham has sat out Wednesday practices as a precaution for his balky knee. … Outside linebacker Nick Perry (knee) also did not practice.