Lakers forward Pau Gasol told The Times he will launch his own foundation… (Harry How / Getty Images…)
Just as he's about to end a week-long trip to the African nation of Chad as a UNICEF ambassador, Lakers forward Pau Gasol plans on getting involved this year with another civic project.
"I'm finalizing the details so I can have my own foundation," Gasol told The Times on Thursday in a phone interview. "I'll continue to have the relationships I have with UNICEF and other organizations. But I will also have my own foundation that I will be very involved with because I want to continue to have a big impact and make a big difference in different fields, particularly with children."
Gasol said he hasn't set anything in stone on the staffing or the launch date. But within the next year, Gasol plans to start his foundation based in the United States and will have a branch in his native Spain. He said he already knows what areas the foundation will focus on addressing.
"It's going to be centered on reducing obesityin developed countries and promoting physical activity so that people are in good shape and good health," Gasol said. "In undeveloped countries, it's about fighting malnutrition and at the same time, promoting and encouraging kids once they're in good health to encourage them to get involved with playing sports. We believe it's a great and powerful tool for their education, growth, relationship and values."
Gasol's community involvement has already centered on those issues to varying degrees.
He frequently visits Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where he's viewed spinal surgeries, talked with patients and tapped into his interest as a former medical student at the University of Barcelona. As a UNICEF ambassador since 2003, Gasol has visited South Africa (2005), Angola (2007), Ethiopia (2010) and Chad (2012) for various issues. During his trips to South Africa and Angola, Gasol mostly helped with relief efforts aimed at reducing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In Ethiopia, Gasol assisted and viewed vaccination and relief efforts to ameliorate malnourishment while also launching "Pau's Project," which raises funds for schools. On his latest trip to Chad, Gasol participated in similar vaccination, feeding and sanitation programs, while also hosting a series of basketball clinics.
Now that the trip is over, Gasol plans to go back to Spain to visit family, work out and unwind before Lakers' training camp starts in October. Once he returns, Gasol will set the wheels in motion on preparing for the 2012-13 season and helping out another cause.
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