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Dog-Track Owner Gives $1.3 Million to Oral Roberts

March 23, 1987|Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. — A Florida dog-track owner presented a check for $1.3 million today to the son of evangelist Oral Roberts after plans for him to give the money to Roberts in the preacher's prayer tower fell through.

The money apparently put Roberts' $8-million fund drive for medical missionary work over the top eight days before what the evangelist has called a do-or-die deadline from God.

Jerry Collins of Sarasota, Fla., was to have presented the check to Roberts today on "Richard Roberts Live," a daily TV program featuring Roberts' son.

But problems with a hookup that linked Oral Roberts and Collins in the prayer tower to the show prevented the on-air presentation.

Recorded on Videotape

Instead, Collins raced through the rain from the tower to the TV stage, about 200 yards away. He arrived moments after the show ended, and gave the check to Richard Roberts while videotape cameras recorded the scene. Richard Roberts said the tape will be shown on his program Tuesday.

Collins left for Tulsa on Sunday as Roberts went into seclusion in his gleaming, 200-foot-high prayer tower on the Oral Roberts University campus to begin praying and fasting as the fund drive drew to a close.

Roberts began making a statement during his son's show today, but the microwave link was lost and program officials said they were unable to re-establish it.

Collins, 79, a former state legislator who owns two greyhound tracks, told the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday that he was not specifically moved by Roberts' claim that he would die without the money, but added, "To be sure, he doesn't have to commit hara-kiri now.

"I think he needs psychiatric treatment. He needs to relax . . . and get back on the main street."

Ministry officials have failed to acknowledge whether the donation would put Roberts over the $8-million goal, although officials said last week the fund drive was about $1 million short.

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