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Volume 10, No. 1SPRING 2007

Voices of All Star Philanthropists

Retired NBA All-Star Vlade Divac has contributed to a number of IOCC programs to benefit children in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ethiopia and Indonesia. During the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, he personally drove a truck of emergency supplies from California to Texas.

As IOCC marks its 15th Anniversary, we lift up the voices and actions of those who support us in responding to our Lord’s call to help our brothers and sisters in need.

BALTIMORE (IOCC) — All have a common purpose: to give back to countries and communities that have been the foundation of their success and to give opportunities to others. Since 1997, a very special group of athletes have been creating signature initiatives with IOCC that accomplish this dual purpose.

Retired National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Vlade Divac, one of the first international players in the NBA to have an impact on the court, has been a leader in helping others off the court as well. Divac and the Group Seven Children’s Foundation he founded with six other Serbian basketball players, including Predrag Danilovic, Aleksandar Djordjevic, Zarko Paspalj, Zeljko Rebraca, Dejan Bodiroga, and Zoran Savic, has sponsored a total of $5 million in IOCC humanitarian projects and educational programs for children in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, the United States, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Group Seven-IOCC initiatives have included programs that use information technology for “Connecting Kids” in 17 Serbian and Bosnian schools and foster dialogue between students. The program was recently extended through a Group Seven grant to include schools in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo. The foundation has also supported an IOCC dental hygiene education and awareness campaign that reached more than 24,000 elementary school children in Serbia’s eight largest cities, providing them with dental kits and training, and encouraging them to make healthy lifestyle choices.

And their humanitarian concern has extended to their adopted country as well. Divac, a recipient of the IOCC “Good Samaritan Award”, personally drove supplies to an IOCC emergency response center in Houston, Texas following Hurricane Katrina. “The devastation caused by this hurricane reminds me of the destruction caused by war in my homeland,” said Divac. “I am especially concerned for all the innocent children who have suffered from this disaster.”

Serbian NBA players that Divac introduced to IOCC include: Peja Stojakovic, an NBA-All Star with the New Orleans/ Oklahoma City Hornets, who has provided for several containers of medical supplies, medicines and equipment to Serbia, Montenegro and Greece; Dragan Tarlac, who played for the Chicago Bulls; and Rasho Nesterovic of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, who joined with IOCC in 2005 to provide 280 wheelchairs and vocational training for disabled people in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Tarlac, whose family is from the village of Ridjica in northern Serbia, has supported several projects in Ridjica through IOCC including equipping the local medical clinic and supporting efforts by area farmers to increase their production by providing critical farm machinery.

“It is very significant that these athletes have not only contributed generously, but have also given their personal support to common projects,” said IOCC Executive Director Constantine Triantafilou. “They’ve achieved extraordinary success, but have not forgotten their roots and those that are hurting throughout the world. This sets a powerful example to all the people who admire and respect them, both in the U.S. and in the Balkans.”

Peja Stojakovic of the NBA’s New Orleans/ Oklahoma City Hornets shares time with children at a basketball camp. The All-Star athlete has supported projects assisting children in Serbia, Montenegro and Greece.

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