Detroit Pistons owner pledges $10M to help crisis in Flint, Mich.

By The Sports Xchange

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores announced Friday the first grants from a $10 million campaign to address the public health water crisis in Flint, Mich., that continues to gather international headlines.

Gores, a Flint native, is leading a private sector initiative that has pledged at least $10 million to a broad range of short- and long-term initiatives to help address the crisis in Flint after the drinking water was contaminated with lead.


The grants include a contribution to the children's health fund co-founded by Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, one of the first responders to recognize and draw attention to the crisis.

"We're moving quickly to support some of the urgent needs on the ground," Gores said in a statement. "We have a long view of what it will take to succeed here, but it's important to get moving. There's no time to wait when people are in need."


Flint's water has forced the city's residents to use bottled water for drinking, bathing and cooking. A federal state of emergency has been declared. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has apologized to Flint residents for the state's failures after months of downplaying concerns, including warnings from researchers about high lead levels in both the drinking water and in the blood of Flint children.

Gores announced he has sent out the first $1 million in contributions:

--$500,000 to the Flint Child Health & Development Fund (, a partnership between the United Way of Genesee County, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Hurley Children's Hospital and the Greater Flint Health Coalition.

--$250,000 to the United Way of Genesee County's Flint Water Fund, which was set up for the purchase of filters, bottled water, emergency support services and prevention efforts.

--$250,000 to the American Red Cross, which is coordinating relief efforts in Flint and is operating the Volunteer Reception Center for people to help with the distribution of water, water filters, replacement cartridges and water testing kits.

"These groups are in the trenches supporting Flint residents during this crisis," Gores said. "We're proud to support their efforts."


The Flint Child Health & Development Fund was co-founded by Dr. Hanna-Attisha, the Flint pediatrician who recognized increased lead exposure in children and helped draw attention to the crisis.

"On behalf of all Flint's kids, we are very grateful to Mr. Gores and his team," Dr. Hanna-Attisha said. "Thank you for recognizing the urgent need to invest now in the future of our children. With your help, we are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow."

Gores emphasized that the ultimate goal of his campaign, which he has christened the FlintNOW Fund, is to support not only immediate relief efforts in the unfolding water crisis, but also long-term programs focused on economic development, nutrition and health care for residents of the city. He further emphasized that the effort was designed to augment -- but not replace -- the support that Flint residents will need from government and other agencies in order to rebound.

"Local, state and federal officials will need to do some heavy lifting to pull Flint through this crisis," Gores said. "But the issues facing Flint won't be solved solely through government intervention. The private sector needs to play a role here, and I am committed to helping drive that effort."


Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem and Platinum Equity partner Mark Barnhill will lead the FlintNOW campaign efforts.

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