Aziz Ansari raised $13,200 for Anoka-Hennepin LGBT group [UPDATE]
Tammy Aaberg had more than one thing to celebrate yesterday. Even before she found out about the terms of the settlement in the Anoka-Hennepin gay bullying lawsuit, she received a very special phone call from comedian and "Parks and Recreation" star Aziz Ansari.
"It was crazy," she said just after getting the call. "I didn't want to be all giddy."
Aaberg says Ansari was calling because he had a little problem -- he'd raised so much money for Justin's Gift, the LGBT non-profit Aaberg named after her late son, that the charity's PayPal account wouldn't accept the donation. She says he was calling to tell her that a check is coming in the mail. A big one.
Ansari found out about the gay-bullying issues in the district after reading an article in Rolling Stone magazine. A portion of the story was dedicated to Justin Aaberg and the gay-bashing incidents that preceded his death. Ansari was so moved he asked the Rolling Stone reporter to recommend a charity that would directly benefit Anoka-Hennepin students. The reporter sent him to Justin's Gift, which Aaberg founded to help kids like her son cope.
"If you read the really sad Rolling Stone article "Minnesota's War on Gay Teens," this charity goes to help those kids out," Ansari wrote on his Tumblr. "The article made me really sad so I decided to put this show together to raise some money for the charity."
On two separate nights in Los Angeles, Ansari took the stage on Justin's behalf. Tickets to the second show went for $60 apiece, which included comedy heavyweights Nick Kroll and Hannibal Burress.
The crowds in L.A. came out in droves -- the final dollar amount reached $13,200.
Update: Turns out Ansari didn't really care for that figure. Aaberg tells us she just got word that Ansari dipped into his own pocket to bring the total up to a nice, round number: $15,000.
"I was so happy to be able to thank him," said Aaberg. "He sounded really soft spoken. He was like, 'It was my pleasure.'"
Aaberg says she got an address from Ansari in order for district kids who benefit from Justin's Gift to write thank-you letters. She hopes to put the proceeds toward a drop-in center for LGBT youth.
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