Las Vegas – July 11, 2007 – Academy Award nominee Don Cheadle and Professional Poker Player Annie Duke announced that more than $700,000 was raised during the Ante Up For Africa event last week, with the proceeds going to the ENOUGH Project and the International Rescue Committee. A star-studded field of poker pros and celebrities joined forces at the World Series of Poker® to bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
“The poker community and celebrities have provided hope through their participation and generosity at the Ante Up For Africa tournament,” said Cheadle. “When we all put our efforts together, we can do amazing things.”
“Who knew a little game of cards could make a big difference to people halfway around the world,” said ENOUGH co-founder John Prendergast, co-author of Not on our Watch. “The people of Darfur just need a helping hand, and Annie and Don have never wavered in extending that hand.”
Ante Up For Africa was organized through the efforts of Duke and Cheadle. Cheadle learned of the Darfur crisis while filming the movie “Hotel Rwanda,” which earned him a nomination for an Academy Award. He has raised public awareness about the Darfur conflict over the last two years and recently co-authored a book titled Not on our Watch. Duke, who has more than $4 million in tournament winnings and serves on the WSOP Player Advisory Council, has also dedicated much time and efforts to this worthy cause.
“The generosity of the players in the tournament is remarkable,” said IRC vice president Anne Richard, who attended the event. “We will ensure that the money raised by Ante Up For Africa has a tangible and beneficial impact on the people displaced by the conflict in Darfur,” she added.
The $5,000 buy-in tournament was opened to the public at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. One hundred and sixty-seven participants played in the inaugural tournament on Thursday, July 5th and dedicated most of their winnings to Ante Up For Africa. The tournament kicked off the Main Event of the World Series of Poker®.
The star-studded celebrity players included Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, Charles Barkley, Jason Alexander, Brad Garrett, Kevin James, Cheryl Hines, Hank Azaria, Martin Sheen, Kevin Smith, Donnie Wahlberg, Mekhi Phifer, Montel Williams, Joe Reitman, Ray Romano, Richard Roeper, Ken Kamp, and Willie Garson. Also playing in the tournament were professional poker players Annie Duke, Andy Bloch, Doyle Brunson, Jaime Gold, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Ferguson, Rafe Furst, Barry Greenstein, Joe Hachem, Jennifer Harman, Russ Hamilton, Phil Hellmuth, and Robert Williamson III.
The tournament ended on a high note when winners Dan Shak and Brandon Moran pledged 100 percent of their prize money to Ante Up For Africa. Their donations alone totaled $386,738. Duke said, “I am so grateful for everyone joining together to raise awareness of the Darfur tragedy. Dan Shak and Brandon Moran are true champions.”
The 2007 World Series of Poker Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light began on June 1 at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. More information on the tournament is available at www.worldseriesofpoker.com.
ENOUGH, a project to end genocide and crimes against humanity, was co-founded by the International Crisis Group and the Center for American Progress, to prevent and resolve genocide and mass atrocities. With an initial focus on the crises in Darfur, eastern Congo and northern Uganda, ENOUGH’s monthly updates provide analyses of what is happening on the ground, outline challenges and obstacles to policy change, and offer targeted recommendations using a “3P” strategy that focuses on promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. The monthly updates also provide an agenda for activists and concerned citizens to affect change. To learn more about ENOUGH, and what you can do to help, go to www.enoughproject.org.
Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee is a global leader in relief, rehabilitation, post-conflict development, advocacy and resettlement services for refugees and others uprooted or affected by violent conflict and oppression.