As they process the shocking news about Robin Williams' death, leaders at one San Diego nonprofit who worked closely with the Oscar-winning actor are sharing stories of his energy and philanthropy.
Virginia Tinley, executive director of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), met Williams in 1998, when he attended his first San Diego Triathlon Challenge.
“He was just blown away by the challenged athletes,” Tinley told NBC 7.
For 11 years, Williams helped athletes facing physical challenge to achieve success in sports through the CAF, taking part in the triathlon and other cycling events. He stayed an avid supporter of the foundation for 20 years.
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The prolific actor brought valuable credibility – as well as media attention – to the organization, Tinley said.
“He truly found joy in participating side-by-side with our challenged athletes, and we cannot thank him enough for the support and energy he brought to our organization,” said CAF’s Senior Marketing Manager Jenna Novotny in a statement.
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Tinley expected to see Williams again this weekend at the Back to Back Century Challenge NorCal bike ride in Sausalito. He has attended the event in the past and told others he’s see them there.
“I felt extremely sad, and a tragic loss. He was a very big-hearted, kind, generous person. He supported the Challenged Athletes Foundation as well as many other charities,” said Tinley.
The Comedy Store in La Jolla is paying tribute to "our dear friend Robin Williams" by posting rare footage of the actor during an early appearance at the venue.
It shows a young, bearded Williams running through his veritable encyclopedia of impersonations, peppered with expletives.
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Williams was found dead in his Marin County, Calif. home Monday morning after a 911 call from that house reported a man not breathing.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office says they suspect his death was due to suicide by asphyxia. A spokesperson for the actor said he had been suffering from severe depression in recent months.
The sheriff’s office is still investigating his death, and toxicology tests are pending.