Pastor ends rooftop vigil after donation

February 25, 2012 8:00:24 AM PST
After camping out on the roof of a South Side motel for 94 days, the Reverend Corey Brooks has come down.

Movie star and producer Tyler Perry donated $100,000 to the pastor's cause, allowing Brooks to end his crusade against gun violence. Donations have been coming in from every corner of the city, but Perry's gift put Brooks over the top.

Before a cheering crowd, Brooks got off the roof on a scizzor lift Friday evening around 6 p.m. He prayed with the crowd and thanked all of the people who gave him money toward his goal including school children, a drug addict and Perry.

"To all the people who have given a dollar, $5, $10, $100, $1,000. I want to say thank you," a radiant Brooks said.

After his descent, Brooks announced that a Chicago businessman who wants to remain anonymous also donated $85,000.

Pastor Brooks had vowed to remain on the roof until he raised $450,000, the amount needed to buy and tear down the building, which he says has become a magnet for drugs, prostitution, and violence.

Earlier in the day inside Brooks' rooftop tent, the calls kept coming in. "This is crazier than when we kicked it off," he told ABC7.

Rev. Brooks received the news of the donation Friday morning as a call-in guest on Tom Joyner's radio show.

"I just started crying. I muted the phone so they couldn't hear me and just gave a loud scream - thank you, Jesus!" said Brooks, describing the moment.

"What you're doing ... that inspired me, that moved me. God bless you, man," Tyler said on the show. "I'm trying not to cry like a big baby, but I'm about ready to break down," Brooks told Tyler.

Since November 22, Brooks had been on the roof of the abandoned hotel, which sits across from his South Side church, New Beginnings.

"He missed his youngest son's birthday," said Danielle Willis, New Beginnings Church spokesperson. "He spent his birthday on the roof. He spent Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's."

Perry learned of Brooks' cause through a Tom Joyner radio contest to give away a Harley Davidson from Perry's new movie, "Good Deeds." Brooks celebrated Friday night by attending the movie with his church members.

New Beginnings Church member Tabitha Clark submitted an essay explaining why her church needed the motorcycle. "He's raising money to open a community center in one of the highest murder neighborhoods in Chicago," the letter said.

"I think Tyler Perry is an awesome person," Clark told ABC7 Friday. "And I've always seen how he's done works here and there. And for my pastor to be a recipient is absolutely amazing."

Rev. Brooks says his fundraising is far from over. The $450,000 will be used to buy and tear down the building. He wants to spend another $15 million to build a community center.