More MS news articles for Feb 2002

Firm's collapse hurts bike charity

01/31/2002 12:00 AM
By Elizabeth Allen
Express-News Business Writer

Among the promises that won't be honored by the bankrupt Enron Corp. is one for $385,000 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society for some heavy employee cycling in last April's MS 150 tour from Houston to Austin.

Enron employees typically fielded a large team of riders for the 150-mile ride, last year putting together 475 cyclists, said Mark Neagli, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Lone Star Chapter.

"This year their team raised $1 million for the bike tour," Neagli said. "We have received over $600,000 of that."

But most of the company's matching gifts, due at the end of the MS Society's fiscal year in September, have not come in.

And they won't, said Rachael Tobor, Enron's director of employee communications.

"Unfortunately, due to our current situation, we are not going to be able to honor that commitment," Tobor said.

The money that biking Enron employees did manage to raise beat the entire employee and corporate package for the previous year, when the total reached $525,000, Neagli said. Enron employees were "tremendous fundraisers," beating every other team and raising as much as $10,000 each.

Enron has no team for this year's race. Many ex-Enron riders are forming teams with up to 50 riders, he said.

One past star probably won't shine this year. Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling, who raised $64,000 in 2000 and $100,000 in 2001, reportedly said when he stepped down in August that he'd like to stay involved in civic life, Neagli said.

But Skilling hasn't registered, and Neagli isn't holding his breath.

"A lot has changed since then," he said.

Corporate underwriting is down about 10 percent this year, he said, but other companies see Enron's absence as a chance to boost their own prestige in the high-profile event.

The Enron bankruptcy hurts, Neagli said, but what hurts worse is seeing the suffering of Enron people the society has worked with for years.

© 2001 KENS 5 and the San Antonio Express-News