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October 1, 2014

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African safari unforgettable for Summerlin couple

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Courtesy photo

Susie Lee and her husband, Dan Lee, pose during their trip to South Africa this summer. The Lees purchased the trip in a live auction at the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation’s Grand Slam for Children fundraiser last year.

The untamed wildlife is intermixed with plenty of vegetation, making the area unique from other African countries with more open terrain.

For two weeks in July, Summerlin resident Susie Lee experienced the brush up close.

"One day we're sitting outside for lunch and an elephant comes by to drink some water," Lee said. "In one area where we ate, the monkeys were known to come down and try to steal your food."

The trip was a part of a package she won in a live auction at the Agassi Grand Slam for Children event last October.

The event, held by the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, raises money to support public education for under at-risk youth in the United States.

For Lee, formerly the executive director of the Las Vegas After-School All-Stars, donating to the organization was an easy decision. Lee didn't disclose her donation.

"I'm a big promoter of children in sports," Lee said. "Andre Agassi's support of youth programs in Southern Nevada is important. They have cut middle school sports and that's the age when children are most vulnerable."

The Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation has grown into a massive fundraiser, generating more than $70 million since it began in 1994.

The Grand Slam for Children will feature two live auction packages this year, including a piece of artwork by James Rosenquist and a lunch with Oprah Winfrey with a trip to South Africa.

"Everyone who attends has a strong feeling for helping children," said Sheria Spleen, marketing coordinator for the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation. "It's a celebration of children and improving education in Nevada and the United States."

Lee travelled to South Africa with her husband, Dan Lee, and children Nevie, 8, and Cody, 4.

The Lees are no strangers to outdoor activities or safaris. However, the South African trip was a unique experience.

"We saw a leopard drag an impala into a tree while we were driving," Lee said. "We then came up to a pack of lions eating a zebra. We were in an open-air Jeep and they could totally jump up and grab you. Luckily, they are just not interested in humans."

After a week doing safaris in northern South Africa, Lee and her family took the Blue Train, a famous South African luxury train, on a 1,000-mile journey from Pretoria to Cape Town.

Even with the amenities — the Blue Train is promoted as a moving five-star hotel — the 27-hour trip to Cape Town was exhausting.

She nearly backed out of a tour to the Cape of Good Hope the next day.

"We were about to turn around when the guide said 'We're 20 minutes away from Cape Town; I'm not turning around,'" Lee said. "I realized how disappointing it would have been to have gone all this way and not see it. It's a famous piece of history."

The Lees spent the final week of the trip relaxing in a series of posh seaside resorts.

The year's Agassi event will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Wynn Las Vegas and will feature Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, The Killers and David Spade.

Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].

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