Children's charities benefit from businessman's generosity

Friday, September 12, 2003

Local businessman John Tlapek gave $20,000 to two Cape Girardeau children's charities Thursday and challenged residents by offering to match up to $10,000 in donations given over the next four weeks.

Tlapek spent the summer traveling the country with his dog, Charley, donating nearly $500,000 to about 20 children's charities and challenging their local residents to donate, too.

On Thursday, he and Charley appeared at the Boys & Girls Club at 232 Broadway to present checks to the local Boys & Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters groups.

"We were just screaming on the phone, when we found out," said Kathy Parsons, program manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters. "We were really just psyched up."

Natika Rowles, chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Club, couldn't help but plant a big kiss on Tlapek's cheek, leaving behind a print of red lips.

"The money will help in two different ways," she told Tlapek. "It will help with our programming and it will inspire the kids to give back, as well."

Tlapek's road trip, which began June 29, comes to an end Friday, when Tlapek makes a donation to an as yet unnamed charity in St. Louis, Mo.

He encouraged people to learn more about the charities he chose and how to donate to them by visiting online at www.travelswithcharley.net.

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