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Yao Ming announces major initiative to help rebuild schools in China

June 10, 2008 (HOUSTON) – Houston Rockets center Yao Ming announced the launch of “The Yao Ming Foundation” at a press conference today at Toyota Center.  The foundation, under the auspices of The Giving Back Fund, will help raise funds and awareness of children’s wellness and welfare issues in China and the United States.

  May 12, 2008 will forever be a date to remember, as China’s Sichuan and Gansu provinces fell victim to the devastation of a deadly earthquake.  The Yao Ming Foundation will respond to this tragedy as its first initiative by creating a call to action and inviting others to follow.  The foundation’s primary earthquake relief efforts will focus on rebuilding earthquake-resistant, high-quality schools.

  “It is very hard to put into words how difficult it is to see this kind of destruction,” said Yao.  “My thoughts and actions are now focused on helping to rebuild the schools that were destroyed in this tragedy and I hope that others around the world will join in our efforts.”

Yao begins the relief efforts by making an initial, personal commitment of two million US dollars.

  “Yao Ming is fully committed to helping the people of China recover from this tragedy,” said Houston Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander.  “I am pleased to assist him with his goal of rebuilding the schools that were destroyed and I commend him on his quick response to this terrible event.”

Alexander has committed $100,000 to the relief effort through the team’s charitable organization, The Clutch City Foundation.  Cold Stone Creamery pledged a minimum donation of $100,000 to be raised through an in-store promotion in China, where a percentage of sales will go to The Yao Ming Foundation.  Fellow NBA players Steve Nash, Baron Davis, Greg Oden, Raymond Felton, Andris Biedrins, Marko Jaric and Marcus Williams along with WNBA player Diana Taurasi also donated to the foundation.  Houston Mayor Bill White presented The Yao Ming Foundation with over $100,000 in donations from Houston companies and private contributors.

  “Houston has shown it has a big heart, and helping to build new schools for people so devastated by the earthquake in China demonstrates it again,” said Mayor White.  “We’re proud to work with Yao Ming and generous contributors to make it happen.”

More than 8,000 schoolrooms and 185 schools were destroyed during the 8.0 earthquake in China.  A donation of $100,000 will rebuild a permanent school for approximately 300 students while a gift of $3,500 will provide one prefabricated classroom for 50 students, including desks and chairs.  Yao will support all of the foundation’s administrative costs.  A full 100% of all contributions from the public will go directly to earthquake relief.  To partner with Yao in helping to rebuild China and to learn more about The Yao Ming Foundation, visit http://www.theyaomingfoundation.org.