Reported by Lou Hillman | bio | email
It was an effort that inspired a lot of people in the La Crosse area, especially school children, but some big questions are being raised now about the organization behind the fundraising effort "Pennies for Peace."
The fundraising effort can be attributed to Greg Mortenson, a best-selling author and humanitarian.
His book "Three Cups of Tea" chronicles his travels to remote parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In it, Mortenson talks about his desire to bring more educational opportunities to those areas, especially for women.
The book has been the foundation for his non-profit organization the Central Asia Institute.
But an investigation by CBS's "60 Minutes" that aired on Sunday questions how funds are allocated by the CAI and Mortenson's stories in his book.
Click here to watch the "60 Minutes" story.
In September 2009, Mortenson made a highly publicized appearance at Viterbo University. He was introduced by Darryle Clott, one of the university's instructors. Clott almost singly handedly brought him to campus.
"The fact that Greg has educated over 60,000 kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan, mostly girls, it's just incredibly important to me," said Clott, still a strong supporter of Mortenson.
During his appearance at Viterbo, Mortenson went on to talk about his life, his group's work in Central Asia, and the organization's effort called "Pennies for Peace."
"The main thing is we encourage kids to find something on their own to support...so they get involved with 'Pennies for Peace'," Mortenson said at the time.
After Mortenson's visit to La Crosse, a huge community-wide fundraising effort ensued.
About 50 schools participated with students collecting pennies to donate to the caused. The students ended up raising more than $50,000.