I had the opportunity to dine with Gen. Schwarzkopf the other weekend as part of the Orlando Magic's Black Tie and Tennies charity gala. It's a great event, held right on the floor where the Magic plays. As participants in the gala, we got to "draft" who we wanted as our celebrity dinner guest. All of the Magic players and coaches were available, as were other local personages and Gen. Schwarzkopf. Draft picks one through five were auctioned off to the highest bidder, and I cunningly secured the fifth pick, knowing that stars like Shaq, Penny Hardaway and Horace Grant would go first. That's how events transpired, and that's why our table had the pleasure of having Gen. Schwarzkopf for dinner.
The general was on hand for the event because he lives in Tampa and he was to be presented with a sizable check (how sizable he didn't know) for a charity he helped found and believes in mightily, the Boggy Creek Gang.
Modeled after a similar operation founded by actor Paul Newman, the Boggy Creek Gang will be a camp for children with cancer, AIDS, cystic fibrosis and other debilitating diseases. Since all the kids share a serious affliction they have a chance to be "normal" while they attend the 230-acre camp, which will be built 40 miles north of Orlando. The idea is to address the needs of the entire family by providing the ill kids with the fun of a traditional camp experience and parents and brothers and sisters with programs on how to deal with their illnesses.
Gen. Schwarzkopf, as a co-founder of the camp along with Mr. Newman and investment banker Ted Forstmann, is giving a lot of his time to Boggy Creek, and he also stays busy serving on four corporate boards. But would he chuck all of that for a new career in politics?
His answer was a resounding no. He had enough politics in the army, he told me. Everybody thinks they can be a quarterback or a general, and he had to spend too much of his time in the military fending off the second-guessers.
The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, which benefited from the proceeds of the gala, handed out grants to various local charities. As a "Superstar" grant recipient, the Boggy Creek Gang was given a check for $250,000. Gen. Schwarzkopf accepted the donation, and he was excited as a little kid himself to get the money.
My daughter Heather got carried away during the live auction and started bidding feverishly for a trip to Paris to attend the opening of Planet Hollywood. When I tried to cool her ardor the general chimed in that I was "depriving" my daughter.
In the spirit of the evening I told the general that if he hadn't won the war I'd be angry with him. To which he replied, "If I hadn't won the war you wouldn't know who I am."
I would vote for this man for dogcatcher.