CHICAGO — Chris Ruder "gives a s---."
Shortly after seeing a DNAinfo story Saturday on a Chicago family starting a fundraiser seeking $8,500 to bring a refugee family to the city, Ruder, the founder of the popular game Spikeball, donated $5,000.
His donation was part of the more than $100,000 Ruder said Spikeball donated to various charitable organizations in 2016. Ruder wrote about the donations in a self-published article he titled "We give a s---. I just wanted you to know."
"Being a leader of a small business, I have this responsibility," Ruder told DNAinfo on Monday. "I want to be someone that takes action, and by doing that I'm hoping that inspires others to do the same."
The refugee fundraiser was started Wednesday by Manisha Dayal, a clinical psychologist from Sauganash who teamed with Uptown-based RefugeeOne and her family: husband Ravi Kodavarti and their children — Nihal, 15, a sophomore at Jones College Prep; and Saniya, 11, a sixth-grader at Edison Regional Gifted Center.
Within hours of a DNAinfo story publication Saturday morning, the fundraiser had surpassed its goal, and as of Tuesday morning, it had raised nearly $11,000. Dayal said Monday that the fundraiser's new goal is to bring in $12,000, which could cover the cost of two families coming to the United States.
When the fundraiser passed the $8,500 mark, Dayal said she "sat there in awe and disbelief with tears in my eyes. She called Ruder "my new hero" who "represents what kindness and love truly mean this holiday season."
Ruder said he's never met Dayal, but could tell from her words in the original DNAinfo story that she "had excitement in her voice."
"I had a good feeling that this money will be put to good use," Ruder said. "And myself like others, just seeing the images over the past two years in Syria and elsewhere, it's pretty heartbreaking stuff."
Ruder started Spikeball by selling the sets out of his Wicker Park house. The product appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2015, and Daymond John, the founder of FUBU, agreed to invest $500,000 in the company for a 20 percent share.
Spikeball's rules are simple, and all you need to play is an inflatable ball and a mini-net that looks like a trampoline straight out of an '80s workout tape. The complete set costs $50.
Once the ball is served — or spiked — off the net, the receiving team has three touches, like volleyball, to hit it back off the net.
The company has 15 employees, Ruder said Monday.
"Even though Spikeball is still a tiny company, we need to make sure we are giving back to help in general," Ruder said. "For this particular story, it's helping refugee families."
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