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Tyler Perry Visits Columbus School, Donates $100,000
COLUMBUS (Lu Ann Stoia/Ken Hines) -- Students at Finland Middle School received a big surprise Friday, when actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry donated $100,000 to the Success Beyond the Classroom Foundation.
Finland Middle is part of the Southwestern City School District, which has struggled financially in recent years, eliminating sports and other extracurricular activities when a levy failed in 2009.
The district has since implemented a pay-to-participate fee, which many families said they could not afford.
Southwestern Schools were in the national spotlight recently when an HBO documentary featured teacher Mary Mulvany, who started the Success Beyond the Classroom foundation, which raised scholarship funds to cover fees that could range up to $500 per family.
Perry is considered one of the most successful men in Hollywood, and is known for the spiritual hope and down home humor on display in his work.
The star contacted Mulvany in January to express interest in contributing to the foundation.
After surprising students and faculty members on Friday, Perry told those in attendance he grew up in an abusive family in New Orleans, and spent time living out of his car.
Perry said he was inspired by the students fight to succeed despite the presence of financial obstacles.
"The best part of the day was seeing these kids faces light up, their tears and excitement. It was pretty wonderful," Perry said.
Mulvany told ABC 6/FOX 28 she believes a higher power was responsible for connecting the school with the Hollywood star.
"I think God's hand was in this one from day one, I feel grateful and blessed," she said.
Perry treated those in attendance to an impromptu performance of his most famous character, Madea -- a sassy grandmother who teaches life lessons through zany adventures.