Last Tuesday, Jan. 12, an earthquake devastated the island of Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.
The Magnitude 7.0 quake, the most powerful to hit Haiti in a century, struck right before 5:00 pm, 10 miles south of the nation’s capital. This quake was so powerful that it could be felt strongly in Eastern Cuba, more than 200 miles away. Thousands of people’s lives have been turned completely upside down by this tragic earthquake.
While the death total is still unknown, people from all around the world are doing whatever they can to lend a helping hand. Two of these people who are going above and beyond the call are former NBA star Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.
These athletes launched an initiative known as “Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti” with the intent to form a united front within the world of professional sports to rally collective support to fund immediate relief efforts.
Last week, Mourning flew into Port-au-Prince, the capitol of Haiti, to try to assist relief workers in any way possible. While in Port-au-Prince he told The Palm Beach Post that he is willing to do “anything they want me to do” on his visit. "I’ll do manual labor or any other kind of labor. I’m here to help them.”
Alonzo flew to Haiti with the Miami-based Project Medishare, which has worked to bring health care to the nation for the past 15 years. Project Medishare was co-founded by Dr. Barth Green who is one of the key players in the current efforts to save injured Haitians.
Dr. Green, who was one of the first foreign doctors to arrive in the country after the earthquake, is in charge of making a new makeshift hospital out of two tents erected on a vacant piece of land right by the airport.
Mourning, who was in the country for 36 hours and is finally flying back, had this to say about the devastation, “It is the most devastating, deplorable images I’ve ever seen in my life. An inhumane atmosphere to where we can only pray and do the best we can to assist those individuals.”
Mourning's former squad, the Miami Heat, has also come to the aid of the people of Haiti. They announced plans to send money and supplies, asking fans to give in exchange for ticket vouchers to February games. Before the Heat’s last game against the Thunder, Wade was quoted as saying, “I know so many players want to do something but don’t know exactly what, so we’re trying to reach out to everyone.
"The main thing we ask is for people to give, whether it’s a full-game salary, a half-game salary, whatever’s in your heart to give. We want to make sure all athletes get together, because there’s strength in numbers.”
Wade rallied his colleagues and friends, and give is certainly what they did. Wade’s donation was a one-game salary, about $175,000, while Mourning, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant each pledged $100,000 to the fund.
Hornets point guard Chris Paul also donated $61,616.61 a specific amount in honor of his grandfather, who was murdered at the age of 61.
“Since first learning of the tragedy in Haiti, I was intent on finding a way to help, “ James said. “I feel fortunate to be in such a position to provide support and my heart and prayers continue to be with the people of Haiti.”
There has also been support from the Lennar Corporation of Florida, who said that they would match the fund dollar for dollar with a donation that will exceed $1 million in aid to support the medical needs of the community.
It wasn’t just NBA players, however, who were in the giving mood. Some of the NFL players who have donated to this cause as well have been Michael Vick, Terrell Owens, Josh Cribbs, Wes Welker, Randy Moss, and Clinton Portis.
Not only are some of these players donating money, but they are also trying to get the fans to donate. For example, Donte Stallworth used his Twitter page to let fans know that for every follower he has on Twitter he would donate one dollar to the fund, therefore equaling around $34,000.
This isn’t the first time that Mourning and Wade have teamed up together for a common cause. Every year Alonzo puts on a charitable cause called Zo’s Summer Groove in Miami, which has raised more than $6 million for children’s programs.
If you would like to make a difference and help the country of Haiti please go to the following Web site to make a donation: www.amcharities.org.