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The Rocket’s 13th annual Tux & Tennies Charity Gala, coming in February, will award the event’s proceeds to the Bush Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund and the Yao Ming Foundation.

The basketball team wanted to help local communities rebuild after the effects of last autumn’s Hurricane Ike. But team player Yao Ming has another passion as well – his Yao Ming Foundation, created last spring in his country of origin, China. quoted team owner Leslie Alexander: “There is still much work to be done in China to recover from the devastation that was caused by the earthquake there last May. Because these two natural disasters have affected so many lives in areas close to our hearts, I wanted to find a way to provide assistance to both causes.”

Having raised $5 million from the galas so far – over $750 thousand at last year’s alone – Alexander is confident that he can contribute significantly to both charities. “There’s no reason we can’t help the Chinese people, also.”

Yao Ming travelled for a few days in China after last summer’s Olympics. “I’ve seen many children studying outside or in some very poor classrooms,” he told “My foundation is rebuilding the schools which were destroyed by the earthquake, but also in the future we’re talking about helping the Houston community build schools, too.”

The Bush Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund is also aimed at rebuilding community services as well as infrastructure for the hardest hit. This is the third joint effort of these two former US presidents, after Hurricane Katrina and the Southeast Asia Tsunami.

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