GALVESTON, Texas (CN) – A prominent attorney has donated $3.5 million worth of exotic cars from his personal collection to help a local charity. “There is more to life than seeing how many cars or planes or houses you can own,” Tony Buzbee said of his donation to the Jesse Tree, a faith-based non-profit that provides food, clothing, job training and medical assistance to thousands of Galveston County residents each year.
“The donation will feed thousands of people for a very long time,” Buzbee said.
Buzbee is a self-made millionaire whose roots trace back to a poor childhood in Atlanta, Texas, where he was one of four kids raised by a butcher and high school cafeteria worker.
“I am blessed to do what I love and am good at it,” Buzbee said. “In my job I’m only too aware of the suffering that exists in this country.”
Thirteen cars are being donated, including Buzbee’s favorite, a $525,000 gunmetal gray Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR. The list also includes a 1930 Model A Ford and a $313,000 Lamborghini Murcielago, which can reach a top speed of 205 mph.
Buzbee’s first big win as a plaintiff attorney came in a $75 million judgment against Transocean in 2001 when he represented a group of offshore drilling workers who said their wages had been withheld. His firm took home $18 million.
“I decided that I have more money than I can ever spend.” Buzbee said. “In my job I’m only too aware of the suffering that exists in this country and if I can do something [about it], I will.”
The name Jesse Tree refers to the wisdom the fruit grows as the result of well-nourished roots.
Its mission, according to its website, is not to just help feed the hungry, but to uplift the community with the goal of restoring independence and self-sufficiency. Through food banks and donations, the Jesse Tree spends $15 million a year on fresh vegetables, fruits and other food to feed 50,000.
Buzbee’s is the largest single donation to the agency in its 15 years of service.
Ted Hanley, Jesse Tree’s executive director, was floored by the gift.
“It’s so overwhelmingly generous,” he said. “What he’s really offering is the opportunity to sustain a local organization … overworked by the immense need … and lack of access to medical care.”