December 31, 2004

FITTING TRIBUTE:

Clemente Jr. sends aid to tsunami victims in tribute of father (Dec. 30, 2004, SportsLine.com wire reports)

Roberto Clemente's son is sending money, clothing and medical supplies to south Asia's tsunami victims.

The aid was originally headed for Nicaragua to honor the anniversary of his late father's ill-fated humanitarian flight 32 years ago.

"My father always said, 'If you have an opportunity to make things better and you don't then you are wasting your time on earth,"' Roberto Clemente Jr. said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press from Puerto Rico on Thursday. [...]

Clemente Jr. was 7 when his father was killed. He said the death still haunts him because he had a premonition of his father's crash and pleaded with him not to get on the plane.

"I carry the guilt to this day of not doing enough to stop him," Clemente Jr. said. "He said, 'Don't worry, I'll see you when I get back."'

Clemente's cargo plane crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico shortly after takeoff apparently because it was too heavy with supplies, his son said. His body was never recovered.

When Clemente Jr. turned 39 this year -- his father was 38 when he died -- he decided it was time to re-enact his father's "flight for humanity" to complete his mission.

He teamed with Project Club Clemente, a New York organization dedicated to the ballplayer's humanitarian projects, and held a dinner dance and food drive to raise money for the flight.

While he was in Puerto Rico finalizing plans, the earthquake and tsunami hit in southern Asia -- on the same day the earthquake rocked Nicaragua in 1972. He said he feels this is an omen.

Clemente Jr. said he is spearheading a campaign with the American Red Cross in Puerto Rico to help the victims of south Asia.

Donations can be made in Clemente's name to: the International Disaster Fund, American Red Cross, P.O. Box 9021067, San Juan, PR 00902.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 31, 2004 10:02 AM
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