Actor Paul Walker was the heart and soul of Burbank-based charity Reach Out Worldwide, representatives said Monday, two days after the “Fast and Furious” star was killed in a single-car crash in Valencia.
“Paul was an honorable, hardworking, dedicated, respectful man with a humble spirit who shared his blessings with those who needed it most,” said JD Dorfman, operations manager for the nonprofit, in a statement.
After the earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, Walker, a Glendale native, assembled a team of first responders and reported to the hardest hit areas of the country to deliver supplies and medical aid.
“He took team there, out of his own pocket,” Dorfman said in a phone interview Monday. “He saw the need, he saw the destruction and saw that he could do good.”
After the trip, Walker founded the non-profit, a mobile first-aid organization that includes a network of volunteer first responders – doctors, nurses, firefighters, paramedics, construction specialists and heavy equipment operators – who respond immediately to national and international disasters.
That same year, he traveled with a team to Chile, delivering water and medical aid to earthquake and tsunami victims.
When a tornado hit Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2011, Walker headed to the state “under the radar,” and helped victims get back into their homes by running a chainsaw to clear debris.
“He didn’t want anyone to know he was there. All he wanted was a chainsaw, and point him in the right direction – he wanted to go to work,” Dorfman said, adding that the actor did far more than write checks. “Paul’s fingers were as dirty as yours were.”
On Saturday, Walker, 40, was attending a Reach Out Worldwide toy drive, through which $150,000 worth of toys and gifts were collected for local underprivileged children and victims of domestic violence, Dorfman said.
Walker and a friend took a red Porsche out for a drive while the event was winding down, the Los Angeles Times reported. Both Walker and the driver were killed in the fiery wreck.
An outpouring of support for the charity has since come in from fans and fellow actors, Dorfman said, though exact donation numbers were not immediately available.
The team that volunteered for the non-profit was “stunned and saddened beyond belief” by the news of his death.
“Paul wasn’t someone who would just write a check and lend his name to an organization; he was the heart and soul of Reach Out Worldwide,” Dorfman said in a statement. “Paul was the first one in and the last one out, he led by example and his hard work and dedication inspired everyone who had the privilege of working with him.”
For more information on or to donate to the organization, visit www.roww.org.
--Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News