The Chair Behind the Charity: Peter Teeley and the Children’s Charities Foundation

Photo courtesy Focused Images, Lynn Dykstra

Four years before the first teams of the BB&T Classic faced-off, Peter Teeley, founder and chairman of the Children’s Charities Foundation, was in a battle of his own against colon cancer.

Teeley had already led an interesting life.  He had worked alongside then Vice President George H.W. Bush as a press secretary and assistant.  He had served as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  He had been thoroughly involved in the political sphere and humanitarian efforts.  And yet he had more to do.

In 1991, when cancer called—he answered valiantly, fighting the disease, and later writing a book The Complete Cancer Survival Guide as a tool to help others navigate their own battles with the illness.

Cancer survival was the impetus for Teeley’s current cause.  While in intensive care, he wasn’t certain if he’d survive, but he made a personal promise to make a change in the community. “If this works out okay and survival is in the books, there is something that you ought to be doing in the community to help others,” he said. His experience dealing with impoverished and at-risk children at UNICEF also aided his decision.  From there, he decided that he would direct his efforts to raise funds for children and make it possible for others to have fun while contributing; thus began the vision for the basketball tournament.

After his recovery, Teeley went to Canada and served as the U.S. ambassador.  He came back in 1993 and went to work for Amgen, a biotechnology company, where he is currently the senior vice president of government affairs.  While at Amgen, Teeley began to organize the Children’s Charities Foundation.  By 1995, the organization held its first basketball tournament and gala. “I brought in a lot of people that were interested in doing this and they were very helpful, cooperative, enthusiastic, and that’s the way it got going,” he said.

This year, the 17th annual BB&T Classic kicks-off at the Verizon Center Sunday December 4th. The George Washington Colonials will go up against the VCU Rams and the Maryland Terrapins will square off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Tip off begins at 2:15 p.m. with GW and VCU and will be followed by Maryland and Notre Dame.  The Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) will broadcast both games regionally.

In addition to the tournament, the foundation has other initiatives to raise money for children.  In May, the organization holds a golf tournament that has had as many as 100 players, according to Teeley.

The BasketBALL Gala, a black-tie function for individuals in business, sports and the community will be held December 3rd at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park.  The event features an auction with various gifts and a performance by 70s pop sensation and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, ABBA.

In 2010, Coats for Kids, a project to gather funds to buy new coats for children was introduced.  Teeley got the idea while he and his wife searched for winter coats for their daughter at Lord & Taylor.  Prices were so low, they thought about buying more coats and donating them to the local church.  Instead, he decided to take it upon himself to provide the coats to the recipients. “Well hell, let’s go back and buy 500,” he said to his wife.  “…I think that they thought we were a bit crazy…we bought the store out.” In January of 2010, they gave out the 500 coats and last winter, the foundation gave away 1300 coats. This year Teeley plans to give away a minimum of 1200.  “For 30 bucks we can get a really good coat, brand new,” he said. “It’s nice to provide money to these charities, but there was something really, really rewarding and satisfying in working directly with a lot of people from Wards 7 and 8 in the District, people who struggle,” said Teeley.  They were integral in helping the foundation organize
the coats by size, sex and charity group.

Beginning December 1, Lord&Taylor will increase its partnership with the Children’s Charities by having materials at eight area locations for accepting donations; people can buy a coat and put it in a box for the charity or make a donation.  The company will also be helping to promote the coat drive and the foundation online by emailing charity information to more than 200,000 of their customers.

Although the foundation has raised millions of dollars and helped more than 100 charities, one charity of particular interest is the DC Children’s Trust Fund, an organization chaired by Dr. Victoria A. Casey, Teeley’s wife, dedicated to child abuse prevention.  It’s also how the couple met.

Running the organization can be taxing, admits Teeley. Each year, he tells his wife it’s his last.

“I think to myself at times, I’ve done this for a long time, I think maybe somebody else ought to do it…but there is such a great satisfaction about all of this and the people that you meet, and the friendships that you form that really, really makes it worthwhile.”

For more information about the Children’s Charity Foundation, visit Tickets for the BB&T Classic as well as information on the Coats for Kids drive can be found on the site.

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