Olympic Speed Skating Champion Joey Cheek to Speak at “SAVE DARFUR: Rally to Stop Genocide” in Washington, DC on April 30

Washington, DC – Olympic speed skating Gold and Silver Medalist Joey Cheek, who donated his $40,000 U.S. Olympic Committee bonus to benefit the children in genocide-ravaged Darfur, Sudan, announced today that he will speak at the “SAVE DARFUR: Rally to Stop Genocide” in Washington, DC on April 30. Cheek, who attended a Republican National Gala event with President Bush on Thursday night, made the announcement today at the non-partisan Center for National Policy during a briefing on the conflict in Darfur by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi recently led a bi-partisan congressional delegation to Darfur and delivered the delegation’s report to President Bush and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

“President Bush has taken the morally correct action by asking Congress to provide emergency supplemental funding to fortify the badly under-manned and under-funded African Union peacekeeping forces, but it’s going to take more than money to solve this crisis,” said Cheek. “As compassionate Americans, we all have a moral responsibility to publicly speak out and tell our leaders that genocide is unacceptable any time, any place. The Rally to Stop Genocide is a rare opportunity for all of us to join together and deliver that unequivocal message.”

The rally will conclude a 21,000 mile, 22-city photo exhibit and speaking “Tour for Darfur: Eyewitness to Genocide” to urge the Bush administration to take all the necessary steps to end the genocide and build a lasting peace in the Darfur region of western Sudan, and on Congress to provide the resources necessary to do so. The tour’s featured speaker is Brian Steidle, a former Marine captain and U.S. representative to the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Darfur from September 2004 to February 2005 (www.SaveDarfur.org/Steidle).

“Joey Cheek’s extraordinary generosity exponentially raised international awareness about the innocent men, women and children who are suffering and dying in Darfur every day we fail to take the actions necessary to end the violence,” said Steidle. “While most Americans don’t have the resources to match Joey’s donation, they can emulate his Olympic spirit by participating in the ‘Save Darfur’ rally and the ‘Million Voices for Darfur’ postcard campaign to urge President Bush and Congress to lead the world in halting this three-year genocide.”

The goal of the “Million Voices for Darfur” campaign is to generate one million postcards to President Bush urging him to use the power of his office to fulfill his February 17 pledge to support a stronger multi-national force to protect the Darfuri people. Anyone can send an electronic version of this postcard in just a few seconds by visitingwww.MillionVoicesForDarfur.org. The postcards will be hand delivered to Washington, DC during the “SAVE DARFUR: Rally to Stop Genocide.”

Since February 2003, an estimated 300,000+ people have died in Darfur as a result of what the President and Congress recognized in 2004 to be genocide sponsored by the Sudanese government and perpetrated by its Janjaweed militia allies, with 3.5 million dependent on foreign aid for their survival and 2 million people forced by violence to live in make-shift camps.

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