|Luke Harmon-Vellotti Conducts Haitian Benefit Simul|
|February 4, 2010|
11-year-old Luke Harmon-Vellotti, the top rated player in Idaho and the #6 11-year-old in the country, conducted a January 30 charity simul at Smoky Mountain Pizza to benefit earthquake victims in Haiti (All money went to the Red Cross Haiti Fund). The event was also covered in the Idaho Statesman. Harmon-Vellotti was inspired to help when in between rounds at the Golden State Open, he saw CNN coverage of the disaster. Luke's dad Daniel Vellotti told CLO, "The images were very dramatic of people suffering from their injuries, and Luke was really shocked and sad. He has always planned to be a doctor (as well as a grandmaster!), and he wanted to help right away. The Pre-Med class that Luke takes in his math and science school (gives him) a greater understanding of the how traumatic those injuries are from the earthquake. He also has a good understanding from that class of how much it would cost to provide relief in the form of doctors and surgeries."
Luke's opponents ranged from adults to children, but the young Idahoan expert won all 20 games (there was only space for 20 players, but latecomers who made a donation to the Red Cross got vouchers to play Luke at a future time.) Luke explained to CLO that putting the simul together was a group effort, "Everyone in my family helped me to get ready. My dad called the restaurant to ask for a donated space, my brother drew up the event flyer, and my mom made cookies and organized prizes for the players." Luke gave hints and take-backs to the youngest players. Luke had a great time and said, "I want to be a doctor when I am older, and my goal is to work on a research team and cure a disease. In the meantime, I am looking forward to doing more simuls for charities. I also hope to motivate more people to use their gifts and talents to help others."
CLO has featured thoughts and initiatives from Daaim Shabazz, The Chessdrum on Helping Haiti and FM Mike Klein, Chess Exhibition Raises Funds for Haitian Earthquake Victims on bringing the chess community together to help Haiti. Read Daaim's latest call for action, "Help for Haitian Chess Family" on the chessdrum.net.