Andersen makes goodwill trip to Belize

Nuggets forward visits schools, hospitals in impoverished Central America

Birdman barnstormed Belize.

As part of an impromptu goodwill trip before training camp, Nuggets forward Chris Andersen spent about 30 hours visiting schools and hospitals Thursday and Friday in the impoverished Central American country.

“It was on short-notice,” Andersen said before leaving Denver. “We had been planning on doing something like this. We just didn’t know when it was going to happen. With the beginning of training camp (starting Tuesday), I figured we should just go for a day and a half and come back.”

The trip was coordinated through one of Andersen’s charitable endeavors, Alliance for Choice in Education (ACE), which provides scholarship money for low-income families who can’t afford private schools.

“The coolest thing about it is going down and visiting some kids who are maybe going through hard times,” Andersen said. “I get to share my story with them and let them experience my story face to face. It’s exhilarating and it’s fun for me. I just want to let them know to never give up and keep chasing their dreams.”

Andersen’s business manager Mark Bryant said the Nuggets are extremely popular in Belize – a country of less than 350,000 – because many of their games are televised via satellite.

“Friends who (helped) bring us in there think that, per capita, there might be more Nuggets fans than anywhere in the world,” Bryant said. “They absolutely love the Nuggets down there.”

With his flamboyant hairstyle and colorful tattoos, Andersen remains one of Denver’s most popular athletes. He made a goodwill trip to China in 2009 and will make several community appearances throughout the season.