Colts’ Garcon hears that some family members are safe after Haiti disaster

By Cliff Brunt, AP
Thursday, January 14, 2010

Garcon hears from family after Haiti disaster

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts receiver Pierre Garcon was contacted by some family members in Haiti and received some good news.

U.S. national soccer team member Jozy Altidore was not so fortunate and planning to travel to Haiti to search for his relatives.

And two days after the island nation was devastated by an earthquake, donations to help relief efforts were flowing from around the sports world.

Garcon said Thursday he got calls earlier in the day from relatives, who let him know they had survived the earthquake that devastated Haiti two days earlier.

Garcon said his mother received a call from a relative on Wednesday night.

“I heard from some family, got some good information,” he said. “We’re still looking for the rest of them. We’ve still got more people that need to be found. We’re still hoping that everybody’s all right.”

Garcon attended high school in Florida, but his parents emigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, and most of his relatives still live there. Garcon, visibly drained after Thursday’s practice, said he’s thankful for the concern people have shown for the nation.

“There’s a lot of support,” he said. “It’s nice to get support from a lot of people. I really appreciate it. We need a lot more.”

Garcon is expected to play in Saturday’s playoff game against Baltimore, but he’s struggling to focus.

“It’s hard, but it’s something you’ve got to do,” he said. “You’ve got to deal with it. It’s kind of tough, but there’s not much you can do about it.”

Garcon has used Twitter to get people to help the country, and he is giving autographed items to fans who donate money to the relief effort.

“Eventually, I’ll go down there,” he said. “My mom’s going down there soon, I have other family members going down there, and people from church are going down there.”

Altidore, however, has been unable to get through to his relatives in Haiti and is already preparing to travel to the devastated country.

Altidore, whose parents moved to the U.S. from Haiti 35 years ago, has more than a dozen family members — uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces — unaccounted for.

With phone lines down and Internet connections wiped out, traveling there seems the only option.

“We are just praying — that is all we can do right now because communicating with Haiti is very difficult,” the 20-year-old Altidore said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday. “There is not much (news) in terms of the status of my family. We have been constantly tracking the Red Cross Web site but we still can’t get through to anybody there. We know as much as everybody else.”

Altidore plays in England for Premier League club Hull.

“I want to go now if I’m able to make the trip over and help in any way,” he said. “My mother and father (Joseph and Giselle) are also looking into going, but I’m also concerned for their safety there.”

Altidore, who is expected to be on the U.S. squad at the World Cup in South Africa in June, was assured Thursday by Hull manager Phil Brown that he will be given compassionate leave to help the search.

In Stillwater, Okla., Oklahoma State safety Lucien Antoine has an uncle with six children in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, and all are unaccounted for. Other members of his family in Cap-Haitien, several hours away, survived the disaster.

“Right now, when you look at the pictures, you can’t really tell where the places are at,” Antoine told reporters.

Antoine, who grew up in Haiti before moving to Florida in 2001, said he’s already made a monetary donation and plans to box up some of his clothes to send back home to those who might need them more. He also asked others to support the recovery effort if they can.

Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert, who said Wednesday he had heard from his father in Haiti but still not been in contact with other family members, announced he is making a $100,000 donation to the recovery efforts.

Dalembert will present a check to Haiti Earthquake Relief during Friday’s game against Sacramento.

Major League Baseball pledged $1 million to help victims of the earthquake.

Commissioner Bud Selig said in a news release that the contribution is being made on behalf of the league and its 30 teams.

“This generous donation from Major League Baseball will help save the lives of Haitian children,” said Ann M. Veneman, executive director of UNICEF. “The people of Haiti urgently need food, fresh water, shelter and medical supplies, and the first days are crucial.”

In Corvalllis, Ore., former Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard, how is of Hatian descent and has family on the island nation, is raising funds and supplies for the victims of the earthquake. He plans to visit Haiti in two weeks to deliver the items.

Oregon State is helping out by accepting donations at this week’s basketball games. The Beavers host Arizona on Thursday night and Arizona on Saturday.

Bernard most recently played with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.

AP Sports Writers Jeff Latzke in Stillwater, Okla., and Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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